A Reader Writes: On Standards-Based Grading….

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.

Apple_Detail1_400 Standards Based Grading/Common Core/Proficiency Based Grading at KHS

“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!


12 responses to “A Reader Writes: On Standards-Based Grading….

  1. Isn’t it fascinating that the science teacher is so unclear about her teaching and curriculum, when she is supposed to have had experience with standards based. Making our freshmen guinea pigs when people are unclear on the standards based approach is unfair and wrong. The students do not like it, and it is completely dumbing down their freshman year. Administration tries to sell something that they are not prepared for. Communication is so poor, and parents input is neither valued or wanted. After all isn’t this just a website where people talk negatively about the school. Ridiculous, lets have an honest conversation about our kids education.


    • Anyone who thinks this website is “…where people talk negatively about the school” …should read it.

      The most “negative” opinion about the school, by far, is the one held by the same people who dismiss this site: the notion that Katahdin is a waste of money and should be closed, and students bussed away. People care deeply about their school. That is why they are fighting so hard to keep it. That said, varying opinions have all been posted, and are all welcome here.

      Concerns surrounding Standards Based Education are very real, go beyond Katahdin Schools and are “…not going away.”

      They need to be respected, and faced in a genuine way.


  2. There would be more positive comments and ideas coming from students and parents if they felt they were being listened to by administration and being validated when asking questions and voicing concerns. Frustration has reached such a level that people feel they have nowhere to turn to and in turn become negative. When our honor roll freshmen begin making comments such as, “I don’t even care what my report card says now,” “When we ask Mrs. Schmidt a question, she doesn’t really answer us, she says things like” Did Albert Einstein invent the light bulb in one try?” One way to begin creating positive comments and outlooks is to LISTEN and validate these people in their concerns!


  3. Standards Based is the biggest dumbing down of education that I have ever seen. The kids know this is crazy. Where is the incentive to work hard? To be the best they can be. You can pass assignments in late with no repercussions, take tests over. How did we get to this point? How do we get out of this? I have a freshman who hates this system, and would much rather work for a grade. Parents have to have a voice, and I feel we are not listened to. Bring back grades and high expectations for our kids, they deserve a lot better education than this.


    • The Governor has recently expressed his regrets signing on to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, so how could anyone be so sure this is “…not going away…”?

      Though Standards-Based Education pre-dates the CCSSI, and can exist in more child-centered forms THIS is anything but.

      There is a great deal of money to be made in the so-called professional development industry, selling system products/consulting services to supplant the expertise of teachers, and they are coming for your property tax money — while teachers are cut. The Common Core State Standards Initiative and the buy-in of Marzano products/services is a case in point. …detrimental to taxpayers, students and teachers — everyone but the shareholder.

      “Everyone knows that teachers don’t choose their profession for the sake of riches. But there are a few ways to get rich in education, and every one of them reeks of corruption. These paths include the testing industry, the textbook business, and the consulting racket. Of these, consulting is the most vulnerable to hero-worship.”


      Parents do have power, though it takes effort and a thick skin — more so when dealing with an RSU Board rather than a local one which, by nature, dilutes the influence of parents and community members.

      From here, anyway, it looks as though parents of RSU 50 have what it takes to push for more child and community centered decisions on a number of issues.

      They aren’t going away.


  4. Parents have to keep pushing and standing up for what’s right educationally for our children even if the powers that be try to paint people as negative. Also why is the freshman science teacher out of school so much? One might argue that students would learn more with the the teacher teaching the class.


    • Parents and community members have been consistent and clear in their priorities, and have, in fact, painted a very vivid, positive vision for the education of their children. They value faculty, and view the teacher/student relationship as paramount, and expect their tax money to be invested in THEIR child’s classroom in an optimal pursuit of excellence.

      Decrying the polar opposite priorities exhibited by this administration is but a small part of the message, but, sadly, marks the point where policymakers stop listening — if, indeed they ever start.

      They all are welcome to use “Timbered Classrooms” to communicate; to answer your questions, but you will probably have to contact them directly.


  5. How about we do our professional development in the summer not during school?!


  6. When I got my Child’s report card, I was appalled to say the least. It tells me nothing. She had all 2’s, and will not receive a 3 or a 4 until she meets the standard or standards. Is this what we are supposed to expect for the next 4 years, along with taking tests over, no consequences for late work. These students are getting a raw deal.
    On a positive note, I am thankful for teachers like Mrs. Robinson and Ms. Timberlake,


    • If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me, “Why don’t you homeschool?” — I could pay tuition for all three of our children! You echo my answer perfectly — it is the teachers. I could never replace the teacher/student relationships, and the wealth of expertise teachers bring into our children’s lives. At a Board meeting last Spring, I rather got the impression that technology is driving the “march of the homeschoolers”, but for the ones I know? Nothing could be farther from the truth. It’s teachers they value.

      The Standards-Based report card doesn’t tell us, as parents, what we want to know, certainly. More importantly, though, making students feel badly with “2”s undermines the learning process.

      They are getting a raw deal, on many levels. But people are coming together to do something about it. This is a letter from a site I highly recommend, “Collapse the Core” on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152048561936418&set=o.228933230614309&type=3&theater

      Parents have a good deal of power to change things for the better.

      Thank you for your thoughts!


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