Coping with standards based grading, am I the only one struggling?

Filed under: Teens, Day Care & Education

This year is the first in which both of my older children are enrolled in mainstream schools. My oldest, Loren, attended a Waldorf school for his elementary and middle school years, my middle child, Cassidy, has a mixture of Waldorf and Montessori educations under her belt. For a variety of reasons we made the jump to public schools this year and both the children and I couldn't be happier with their current educations. They are both blooming in their new environments and I am pleased with their progress and the lack of tuition bills; however, there is one area that simply flummoxes me: the standards based grading system.

Gone are the A, B, C, D's, and F's of my childhood. Now there are numbers to rate the kids' progress. The 1, 2, 3's do not translate into A, B, C's. Nor does a 3 mean a 75% or a 1 mean a 25%. Accompanying the numbers are rubrics to show exactly how the teachers are breaking down each element of the assignment and why a certain number was awarded for each standard of the work. The first couple of assignments my daughter brought home with the rubrics I was completely in the dark about the process. What the heck was it all about?

Needing some clarification I asked a few teacher friends of mine to lend me a hand. A couple of them believe the new system is a nightmare, adding more work to an already overworked load. Another friend sat me down and explained in depth about the rubric and how each element takes the teacher to a deeper level of grading the child's work. By dissecting every single aspect of the assignment the teacher has a better grasp of exactly where the child is on the spectrum of understanding. This shed some light on a muddy subject.

Yesterday when I went to my son's high school for parent/teacher conferences I thought myself ready to handle the numbers of this system. So imagine my surprise when I received his report card only to find both numbers and letter grades! It was one of those moments when I just shook my head and decided to go with the flow lest I lose my mind. I inquired with his teachers about how they arrived at a letter grade when they were using the standards based approach, needless to say each one had a different answer. Fortunately my daughter is just in the fifth grade and her teachers base everything off of a 1,2 or a 3. So while I have a better understanding about the process I am still at a loss for this system. It seems rather complicated and cumbersome. Am I the only one in the dark here?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.