My school, a middle school, has been implementing standards-based grading. It's a big deal for us, but elementary schools have been doing this for years. That means that when parents see an A on the report card, they can assume their child has met and is exceeding grade-level standards in that content area, even if he was the most disruptive child in the class and one who rarely did homework. The standards we're using are the Common Core standards, and we've moved to consistency within grade level content areas.
This transition means we've had to move away from things like marking down for late work, averaging a quiz's grade with a retake, or offering extra credit.
There has been much respectful compromising.
Despite the challenges, we have thrown out most of what we've done with grading (I used to give late work 50% - it made grading that pile before the end of the quarter so easy!) and are adopting totally new habits and strategies.
But there's one thing that still doesn't fit, and that thing is the list of comments we need to use when we enter grades. We use eSis, so we can't write individual comments. We enter the numbers that correspond to a comment. If Peter is earning a C because he's almost at standard, why are my comment choices things like #410, "Needs to assume more responsibility," or #310, "Absences and tardies affect grade"?
Are these behavior comments helpful to parents because they like the anecdotal, "What's my child like in class" quality? Or are they a barrier to true standards-based grading, because they use behavior to explain a grade? Does behavior impact a grade? Many say it does.
As a parent who reads report cards, hoping for a glimpse into my child's academic self, and as a teacher who knows her students well I think that if a child "Bothers others so they cannot work" (#201), that's probably something that should be communicated to parents long before the report card is opened.
What comments do you think would effectively explain why a child earned a D, C, B or A in your content area? Or, if you're an elementary teacher who has written detailed and personalized report cards for years, what do you find helpful for communicating to parents why a child is where she is in her skills?
For me, as a middle school humanities teacher, I wish I had these:
1. Is highly skilled at recognizing cause and effect patterns through history.
2. Advanced ability to consolidate information into understanding of an historical situation.
3. Ability to critically incorporate peer and teacher feedback into individual style has strengthened writing skills.
4. Exceptional interest in reading a wide variety of texts.
Needs more work:
1. Needs to practice connecting an isolated event to its context.
2. Lack of geographic knowledge creates barriers to mastery of content.
3. Needs to embrace the revision part of the writing process.
4. Reading outside of school will strengthen skills and confidence.
If your building has moved to standards-based grading, what has worked and what is problematic? Do you think this is a direction schools should move? Is behavior so deeply embedded in ability, that it's impossible to separate the two?