Standards Based Grading and the Game of School: Craig Messerman at TEDxMCPSTeachers

Standards Based Grading and the Game of School: Craig Messerman at TEDxMCPSTeachers

November 21, 2019 7 By Stanley Isaacs


Translator: Lena Clemente
Reviewer: Denise RQ Today, I want to share with you
something I’ve learned about standards-based grading
over the last few years, and something that can be called,
‘the game of school.” Some people call it that. The game of school has many moves, One of the opening moves is this question
that I hear quite often, way too often, “Did I miss anything important?” Well, maybe it was this. Maybe you missed this, or this. I think those are important. But this, now this is really important. What I found is that students
have become fixated on filling out papers and getting grades. And that’s the opening move,
in the game of school. The game of school has other moves, too,
like, “What can I do for extra credit?” I hear that one a lot. We throw carrots out there,
that’s the carrot. But then we have sticks,
like the late grade. Or, the ultimate stick, the zero. I believe that we can end the game
and increase success by using standards based grading,
and help more students succeed in school. So what this really means is connecting a learning target,
a standard, with every grade. Every grade is connected to a standard. We used to call them
behavioral objectives. Today, we call them learning targets. We put an “I can” in front of them. Same thing, really. And I’ve been using them
for my whole career, but only in the last couple years
have I come to the realization that maybe, every grade
I put in the grade book needs to have one of these
associated with it no matter what it is. So, every lab that we do,
every activity, whatever, it’s always going to be connected
to one of these learning targets. So with the help of Robert Marzano
and Rick Wormeli, over the last year, I’ve come up with
a plan that involves the following: a four-point scale, which minimizes
the effect of the zero; formative assessment, helping the students
know what they need to do to succeed – every assessment Involves telling
students what they need to do better -; flexible, formative grades, which means
that grades can be upgraded at any time – just prove to me that you can meet
the target, and we’ll raise the grade -; collaboratively written rubrics: the students help me write the rubrics that allow them to know exactly
what it takes to get a four; and summative exams: once we’ve spent all the time
going over everything, and everybody is prepared, it’s a higher
weighted grade for the summative exam. I have a little data
here over the last few years. At the very least, I can say
that this has affected my bottom line. That bottom line. Here’s a very strange distribution from
a few years ago I picked at random. And here’s one from this year. Here’s one that looks
a little more normal, if you can call it that. And here is another one from this year. I think it’s a dramatic improvement,
at least in this bottom line. What I try to tell the students is, “Show
me what you know, and I will assess it.” That’s my message to them “Use any method you want. Show me what you know,
and I will assess it. I will help you learn.” And what I try to tell parents is, “What
can I do to help your student learn this?” In IEPs, in CSTs, and whatever,
this is now the message. Whereas the message used to be this,
“Your kid doesn’t turn in work!” over and over and over again,
for years, and years, and years. This is no longer an issue
because I can assess every student regardless of whether
that paper got lost or not. So this one’s no more. But by far the biggest, I think, maybe a sign of the influence
this could have on my students came from a young man this year,
who after the first quarter came up to me and told me this, “I can’t believe I’m not failing.” Obviously a student who is really used to
the game of school on the negative side. And my only response was simply, “I can.” Thank you. (Applause)