Standards-Based Grading: Reassessment Policy Smorgasbord!

Close your eyes. Imagine a mature field of wheat. The wind blows suggestions of patterns that move like waves on the ocean. You can smell the dried chaff rising in the welcome heat of a harvest morning.



If the goal is the pleasant wheat field of assessment, where students and teachers work like farmer and farm hand towards the goal of an apprenticed understand of what learning is, then the interruption above is like having someone suggest burning the field just to get the harvest over with quicker. Surely, the wheat would be down, and we could go play video games, right?

I’ve had a lot of conversations recently with teachers about how to specifically implement reassessment strategies. Here are some pitfalls that are really common:

  1. Letting students control the reassessment schedule before they have actually drank the SBG kool-aid.
  2. Making the subsequent reassessments more difficult.
  3. Assuming students should want to come in after school.

Here’s how my policy works: One reassessment, per student, per week. The day is even picked randomly for them. So, for instance, my section of calculus might only be able to come in on Tuesday of this week, but next week it could be Friday.

I temper this heavily with my own quizzes. These quizzes cover new material and material from previous standards. The students generally don’t know what previous standards I will choose. Grades can go down. Here’s how I think I’ve solved some of the aforelisted problems:

  1. If you let students play the points game, they will. Learning is really hard and uncomfortable, and given the choice, most of us would probably play a game with easy and predictable rules, despite it having nothing to do with actually learning. So, you must control the reassessment schedule. You must get enough data to actually get a trend line for that kid’s understanding. If you let them come in whenever they want, unless they’re a convert, it just won’t work.
  2. Making reassessments more difficult implies that your first assessment wasn’t a valid one. It’s about learning certain skills. Make it a separate standard, or pull the embedded skills a part, if you can.
  3. Students are busy. They need to know what they’re going to get for coming in outside of class. Be clear about when they can and what the protocol is. Don’t offer nebulous “help” after school. Schedule some study sessions. Respect your time, too.

Comment, Comment Hard:

Ok, what I want for this post is for everyone who has ever even thought about SBG to put their reassessment implementation in the comments. Fire away!