An articulation of community questions surrounding Standards-Based Education submitted here, by a community author…. A Parents’ -Information Night is scheduled for 5:30 Nov. 25 at KMHS.
“Who here thinks standards based grading is stupid?” This was a question asked by the principal when addressing the freshman class about standards grading a couple of weeks ago at KHS. Naturally, when kids don’t have enough information about a topic, they are going to agree that it is “stupid” if asked the question. Hence, all the hands that went up in the room.
Students were told that standards based learning and grading is “good learning” and is “not going away.” Yes, this may become a good learning system when teachers are confidently trained to teach to the standards, when students are confidently taught how to learn and work to “meet the standards,” when administration has a report card created for teachers to report to and students to work for, when administration has a standards based diploma created for students to work for, when educators, students, and parents know where this is going and how to get there! Students were told that administration is “working on” what their report card and diploma will look like because they “want to get it right.” This is understandable, but shouldn’t we accomplish that before teaching and grading with a new system? This year cannot be an experiment! This is our freshmen’s first look at high school, and right now, they don’t feel there is good learning in some of their classes as they struggle with knowing what they’re working for to “meet the standards.” They feel that some teachers are clear about what they are teaching and how they meet the standard, whereas others clearly are not. Students do not see where they are being given assignments that align to a certain standard and they are not being challenged to move on – what do they move on to? They need the standards written out for them. One student said, “If I knew what I was working for (standards and how to meet them), I would try harder. I need to have it written down so I can see it and keep referring to it.” Other students have echoed this and the information has been promised to them, but has not been done as we enter the second quarter of school.
In an attempt to explain the style of standards teaching, an analogy is being used of how elementary students work in “stations” and that the group/station setting is what standards teaching will look like as students work on meeting a standard and move on (each group/station would be working on something different). This is not making sense to the kids, high school learning is not comparable to elementary learning. Some learning styles will be disrupted by this type of teaching and teachers will need training to be effective.
Students are very confused about what they are even doing in science right now, let alone understanding how they meet a standard in the class. There needs to be more communication with students – for instance, they did not know they were having a test the day after progress reports came out, they had not turned in any work at that point for a grade – how did they receive a grade? How did they know what they were being tested on? Then they are told they can re-do again and again and again as long as it takes to get a grade of “meeting the standard.” Material that is successfully taught, should not need to be re-taught and re-taught and re-taught so that students can meet the standard after multiple tries!!! Clear communication is a must between teachers, students, and parents! Students are also struggling in their Global Studies class with not understanding what they are working for in terms of standards and are not clear on what the curriculum is. They are concerned with the many assignments created on the iPad that they struggle to follow.
We know that proficiency based grading/standards is being mandated by the Department of Education, effective school year 2014-15. It may be a great system and be beneficial to our children’s education eventually. For this school year, the DOE is not ready and our school is not ready. Our freshmen have not had a solid start to their high school years and they are feeling frustrated. At the “Standards” meeting on Monday, November 25, have your questions ready and expect some solid answers…………………..our kids deserve it!