Lessons Learned About Education

January 14, 2019

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Understanding Standards-Based Grading Systems and How It Improves the Quality of Education

Standards-based grading is a new trend in the innovation of education that focuses on learning and helps to increase achievement. Instead of a single overall grade like Mathematics 95% = A, standards-based grading breaks down one subject matter into smaller learning targets like, Mathematical components are broken down into: “I can find the sum of two digit-numbers = 3, I can define a number sentence = 2, I can find the difference of two-digit number = 2. The ability of teachers to track the students’ progress enables them to custom make the instructions to fit the individual student needs according to their performance in each of the “learning targets”. Students were previously created according to the percentage of the work that they had successfully completed as a result of the tutor’s instruction. The traditional grading scale had the letters of the alphabet A, B, C, D and F to differentiate students in the ranks. Standards-based grading on the other hand is based on any demonstration of mastery of a subject. Typical skills of 1-4 reflect student’s increasing skill in the subject and an instructor can know how to well address the issue from the progress. This enables the students to continue working and learning until they are able to achieve the target and is therefore viewed as a ladder where students climb up, one rung at the time, and eventually reached the top. Teachers filling the gap by giving regular feedback, reteaching the misunderstood subject and offering additional opportunities for students to perform better in the grading ladder. A continuous understanding of the student’s mastery by the teacher makes them to adopt to the individual instructional needs and discourses education to be more effective and engaging.

This helps the students to their areas of improvement, even if they are good in completing work, and helps them to reach in the highest levels of achievement. Traditional grading methods discriminated students with a low work rate and the teachers cannot sufficiently know how to improve the students as they will force them to adopt to the teaching system of which not all of them will respond well to. Targets are further broken down into rubrics to help the students to see the steps that are required to reach their highest level of achievement. This provides herself directional grading system that can enable the student to improve themselves.

The traditional systems mechanically presented the teacher’s instructions in a curricular that had a lesson plan and because of the different planning rates of students, some are bored because of the slow pace of the teacher while some teachers will go extremely fast for the students that are slow. This particular kind of instruction is called “differentiated instruction” or simply DI in short.

Standards-based grading is focused on learning and mastery which gives students a motivation to learn. This is an emotionally safe environment where students are encouraged to stretch themselves, make mistakes and learn as opposed to the traditional methods that create a test-taking fear and calls anxiety that interferes with learning because students are afraid of making mistakes.

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