Standards based grading helps students


Noah Servigon

With shaving cream on her right hand, science teacher Lara Russey talks to students on the first day of school after a brief demonstration of what happens when shaving cream and food coloring are added to a piece of paper.

A new grading system is being used in all science classes in 2017-18 after chemistry teachers developed a new system last year that benefits students when it comes to retests.

“A lot of our science classes, they do what’s called standards based grading, which is where you receive a grade by standard or topic as opposed to getting a unit score or something where the topics are grouped together,” chemistry teacher Brynn Stephens said. “So basically if a test covers multiple topics, you would receive a score for each of those topics and then you would be able to retest each of those topics if any of them were below 85.”

Classes, such as math and history, require that students retest all of the material when the grade is below an 85, whereas science classes give students a choice.

“If we’d given our unit one CBA, it would have covered five different topics and you’d get one single grade for those five topics and you’d be either above an 85 or below an 85, and if you were below an 85 you could retest the entire thing over again up to an 85, whether or not you’d scored well on one of the topics or not,” Stephens said. “So if you had known all of one topic, you’d still be retesting that because you’d do the whole thing as one big chunk, but by splitting it up, we’re doing that and a lot of the other classes are doing that so you know exactly what to study and we know exactly how to prepare you for it.”

CBA stands for curriculum-based assessment that is a measurement that uses direct observation and recording of a student’s performance in the local curriculum as a basis for gathering information to make instructional decisions.

“So our goal is to give the best possible feedback that we can so that you know which topics you need to be working on,” Stephens said. “I know which topics you need to be working on, your parents know which topics you need to be working on, and so you have a better idea of where your strengths and weaknesses are so you know where to spend your time because our ultimate goal is to make sure that you master the most important material.”

While the science teachers are doing standard base grading, the english teachers are doing the same thing, but in a different order with a different goal.

“Ours is a little bit different in that we kind of do the reassessing before there’s ever an assessment and that we offer lots of opportunities to practice and get feedback and practice and practice and practice before the actual assessment so that students kind of know where they’re going to be before they actually take the assessment,” English teacher Kacie Smith said. “That way there’s less of kind of the grading concern and it becomes more about the learning process so they’re more comfortable with it and it doesn’t necessarily become so much about what score they’re going to get, but mastering the skill and then putting a number into the grade book, which isn’t a surprise to them when they get it.”

While science teachers benefit by not having to regrade as much from the retests, this grading system can also benefit students.

“I think that’s better,” sophomore Tiffany Truong said. “Instead of having to relearn everything and study everything, you can just learn the things you messed up on.”