Why is Somers School District implementing a Standards Based Report Card in combination with the traditional letter grades?
1. What are the advantages?
The decision to use percentages, points, or the standards based scale is really about what you want to emphasize- grades or learning. If we wanted a student to explain to his parents that he would have achieved an A if he had answered 3 more problems correctly, we would continue to use percentages or points. But, if we want him to state that he would have earned a 4 (advanced proficient) if he had been able to make clear the connection between the economy of the South’s secession from the Union, then we use a 1-4 scale with its associated descriptors.
The 4.0 scale focuses on learning and achieving excellence, not on how many problems the student did correctly. It pinpoints where students need to improve and highlights the areas they are excelling in.
The Standards Based Report Card lists the most important skills students should learn in each subject at a particular grade level.
Students get separate marks for effort and work habits, which are important for parents to keep tabs on even if these characteristics aren’t included in the assessment of the student’s academic skills.
2. How do I get a "4"?
A 4 is earned when the following happens:
-A student can apply the concepts over time.
-A student has advanced insights about the knowledge.
-A student goes above and beyond what is expected.
-A student can work independently with no errors.
-A student has a complete and detailed understanding of the topic.
-A student understands the key features of the process.
-A student can use the knowledge at higher level tasks.
With a 4, the teacher must tell the student what to do to get a 4. With an A, it is just whatever the child gets at the end of the quarter for a final percentage.
4. Why aren’t the scores averaged?
In certain subject areas, the 1-4 scale is averaged over time.
Please note however:
In a standards based environment, there is no ending grade as the standards continue on throughout the grade levels, it is the benchmarks that change. Students are measured for where they are at that time compared to benchmarks and grade level expectations.
5. Is there consistency regarding what a 4 is from class to class?
Our teachers are very conscientious and want to provide equal opportunities for students to achieve. We have dedicated part of our professional development time to continue working on rubrics and assessment. It is important to the staff that we are consistent from classroom to classroom and grade level to grade level.
Statistical analysis proves that smaller scales yield higher interrater reliability. This means that a 3.0 in one math class is likely to be a 3.0 in the math teacher’s class next door, if they both use the same 4.0 scale with the same descriptors for each level. Smaller scales 1-4 decrease subjective grade inflation or deflation than a 1-100 scale. (Wormeli)
6. By the end of the year are you expected to be at a 4?
Not necessarily. Although, we want all students to strive for a 4, there will be those who don’t reach it. A 4 equals advanced, being advanced isn’t the equivalent of an A on a traditional report card. For example, if a sixth-grader received A’s on every math test during the semester, she would probably receive an A on a traditional report card. If those math tests measured only the concepts sixth graders are expected to master, those A’s would be the equivalent of "proficient" on a standards based report card; the student is doing what she should be doing, but not necessarily more.
Teachers will consistently give opportunities for students to show advanced work. However, as in the example above some assignments will be a review or will be basic knowledge that is expected to have already been mastered (multiplication facts, basic geography, simple punctuation or mechanics, etc.)
7. Where should you be at the beginning of a given assessment period?
Students will be at different levels. Just like some 6th graders easily know their multiplication and division facts, some students are almost able to recite them, while others are struggling to memorize the facts.(As mentioned above this would be an example of material that wouldn’t be considered advanced.)
Teachers will continue to differentiate instruction to students at different levels.
8. What are the consequences of receiving a 2 all year?
It means that a student is not grasping the necessary concepts to become proficient. The child will need to continue working on mastering that content or subject area. This is a perfect example of when we would look at the "Behaviors that Promote Learning" section on the back of the report card. Is the student doing those behaviors that would help him/her be more successful? For example, is he/she finishing classwork and homework, which will give more practice and strengthen or reinforce his/her understanding of the material?
SBRC provide the added benefit of keeping teachers and parents focused on student learning goals from the very beginning. This gives students a more specific area to look at to improve, such as problem solving and measurement in math, instead just saying you are earning a C or D in math.
9. What about insurance companies?
Most of our students use their first quarter of high school (freshman) grades. However, we would gladly write a letter to any insurance company about the academic standing of any of our students upon request. A student may use his GPA for insurance discounts.