Back to Blogging ... Proficiency Based Grading/Learning

So it is my new goal to blog at minimum four times a week (Since I am not taking any classes currently, I need to exercise my brain). The topics will be on a range of things, but primarily focusing on education, unless I go on a sideways rant in which case it will probably be about running or soccer.

Tonight's Hearty Topic: Proficiency Based Grading/Learning

(For those EDU folks PBL or SB - Standards Based Grading ... Since we like acronyms)

My thoughts are it holds students accountable for what they need to know and the ideals are correct behind them. It has given my students, their parents, and myself an exact picture of what students know and don't know. In my grading book all tests and quizzes are titled 7.NS.1 or 6.NS.2 then usually sub-scripted for the parents to understand my gibberish without having to get a dictionary on math standards. For Example 7.NS.1 Test - Adding and Subtracting Rational Numbers  ... then under the description: Students will be able to add and subtract positive and negative numbers including whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. Lengthy Yes; Understandable? For Some?

Either way I have seen far less arguing with parents when you state your child struggles with this topic, but excels in this. Also with math this helps target underlying weaknesses that hinder children as they get older much of which is centered around number sense.

So far this seems all great. The downside as a teacher is repetitive re-teaching and re-testing. In theory with PBL students should be allowed to re-take until they show competency at a given standard. For a teacher this means finding time to work with the student in a small group setting and then being able to re-test in some form to authenticate that the know the material.  What I see is the school systems not catching up to these new laws and educational ideologies. What this looks like is me running extra math sessions before and after school on my own time hoping students show up. This morning at 7:30 I had 15 students who needed help on three different proficiency's all dropped off early to seek it, and most with parents who want the best for their kiddo, but can't help them in mathematics.

Another downside is this idea generated by principals and administration that have little background in math that students need to be proficient in all standards of mathematics. For a seventh grade student that is 24 standards in 9 months, not including the sub standards ranging in topics from statistics to geometry to algebra.  There needs to be a realization that these are all very different topics of mathematics and as adults many of these math specialists do not mix. (I do believe they do need some basic introduction, but at which grade do we see students strengths...In Europe they have a stronger emphasis on Statistics in HS because it is more practical for non math majors).

Anyway that is a brief summary on my thoughts on PBL without even talking about Physical Education.

Sites that have helped me with PBL include:

the most recent one I am using in the classroom is the free portion of
(It looks almost identical to the Smarter Balance Test, is sorted by Standard, Grades automatically and color codes my kids into green, yellow, red. It also has a stronger focus on understanding math)


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