You want to know something I realized about myself and my transition to Standards Based Grading? It’s something I’m kind of embarrassed by, but I’m glad I recognized it so that I can be super conscious about it.
It’s that one of my big fears, something I couldn’t articulate until now I couldn’t quite place my finger on it, is that all my kids are going to do really well. That I’m going to have all 4s and 3.5s for all my students’ final skill grades.
I work at a school full of motivated kids. These kids are largely motivated by grades.  I’m pretty sure there will be tons of reassessment, until students have 4s on everything, or almost everything.
I think something I’ve been proud of is having a pretty solid distribution: a couple As, a bunch of Bs, a few Cs. I don’t know why I’ve taken pride in this — I think having that distribution showed me I was challenging students the right amount, pushing them as a whole.  And although I always told my students I’d be happy if they all got As, and I think I would have been because I don’t make my courses easy and I would have been impressed that they all rose to the occasion, I would have also felt like I wasn’t making the course challenging enough for them. Does that make sense? I’ve always used my grading distribution to let me know if I’m making the course the appropriate level to challenge my kids without having any of them drown.
So when people say Standards Based Grading is a total reorientation in terms of the way you think about the classroom, I realize this is exactly the sort of thing they mean. Because I’m ashamed to admit that one of my secret worries is that all my students get 4s on everything I teach. I don’t want to be that teacher that always gives As. *shiver*
I’m glad that I’ve recognized this secret fear, because it is TOTALLY AND UTTERLY DUMB. SERIOUSLY DUMB. LIKE SO DUMB. If I didn’t recognize this monstrosity in my subconscious now, I would have sabotaged my whole year inadvertently. Yikers!
Hello, earth to Sam, the point of this new grading system is to focus on getting the most amount of kids to know the most amount of material (and also, importantly for me, to teach kids independence and study habits that work for them). And I’ve made a rigorous set of non-fluffy standards. And if my kids can achieve mastery and retention of those standards, I’m going to toot my own horn as loud as I can. I want to capitalize on the motivation of my students to do well.
So now my new mantra is: I want to be the teacher who gives all As, and I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure my students know that I want them all to get As, and do everything in my power to encourage them to use their newfound SBG freedom and independence to get those As. Because my As in this new framework will mean something. Because my course forces mastery and retention. Because my course is rigorous.
Wow, huge realization.
PS. I have a smaller fear that I won’t know how to grade students well, even with my list of skills and my rubric. Not that I won’t be consistent among how I grade students — I am scrupulous about that now. But that I have assessment questions “good enough” that they can reveal to me the various gradations of 4, 3, 2, 1, 0 from the rubric. I think that’s something I’ll pay attention to as the year goes on. It’s something I have to see in action to see if there is some tweaking to do here.
 Many care about their grades more than they care about learning. Although both are sort of tied up, they are not synonymous. But regardless, it does lead to kids actually learning stuff.
 I’ve also had a serious problem with teachers who always tend to give As to students.