Standards guide my teaching regardless of my State’s penchant to revise, re-write and adopt Common Core Standards hardly before the ink was dry on that third round of Science Standards. Actually only the Language Arts and Math common core standards (CCS) were adopted since those are the only ones that “count” towards students’ annual yearly progress (AYP) and schools annual report card (ARC).
The conversation at my school now is the high school a place for standards-based report cards. Our elementary school adopted a standards-based report card three, maybe even four years ago. This year the middle school is implementing their version with the high school slated to adopt this method of reporting student progress in two years. While I have read pros and cons of standards-based reporting, I am going to focus on the discussions in my own school for furthering the discussion and hopefully gathering more data/information.
1. Students and their parents deserve to know exactly where they stand in relation to the standards being used for the state standardized testing. Refer back to the first paragraph where we have adopted new state standards (12.2010) and common core standards (08.2010 with Language Arts and Mathematics revisions and alignment 12.2011). So which standards do we use? Our state standardized tests are based on the older standards, not the recently adopted ones; 2012 the contract with present test-writing company comes up for renewal; current results from state testing is available 4-5 months after testing; data for the next four years is baseline yearly due to the 4-year phase in of new tests for new standards; state tests are only one-time snapshot of students’ ability and do not reflect students’ true ability; and test take up a lot of instructions time—preparing, giving and rewarding students for doing their jobs.
2. Instruction should be standards-based so aren’t grades already standards-based? If indeed instruction is based on district, state and/or national standards, are we not already grading based on standards? Why change a system that works and is acceptable?
3. Will post-secondary vocational schools, universities and colleges and employees want letter grades instead of standards-based grades? The school district we have modeled our elementary and middles school standards-based report cards has a dual system at the high school level to accommodate those requiring a letter based grading system (almost everyone!). Scores from national standardized tests, ACT and SAT, are used as well for college entry, not standards-based grades. While performance on our state’s tests have helped students with entry into state universities and colleges, the student’s GPA based on letter or percentage grades remain a major component for acceptance.
4. Will standards-based report cards lower expectations, increase student accountability, help or hinder students going on to post-secondary schooling and/or work?
These are condensed snapshots of discussions that have occurred over the past four months. Several faculty members have done more research into the use of standards-based grades and report cards; others sit back and watch, waiting until they are either forced to implement or not.
I personally feel I am already basing my stuents’ grades on standards since they not only guide instruction but assessment as well in my classroom. That in itself requires much out-side-of school time for lesson planning, as well as implementation of differentiation to a higher degree and provides for my students more opportunities to be successful. Will standards-based report cards increase my students’ achievement? Or will it just add another layer of lengthy paperwork to my work duties that may detract from instruction and student learning? Will parents really appreciate a “U (unsatisfactory), PP (partially proficient), P (proficient) or A (advanced)” more than a percentage from 0-100% on each assessment, unit, semester or other grades?
Guess I have more homework to do on this topic!