SBG issues

Sam Shah was posting about some downsides to SBG.  And Riley responded.

I feel like there is something important missing here.  Standards Based Grading is a grading system.  It’s not a teaching system.  My instruction is mostly independent of the grading system.

I am assessing my students with greater frequency, accuracy and precision.  And the feedback they receive from their assessments is far more informative than before.  But let’s not think that standards based grading is a revolution in teaching.  It’s a revolution in grading.

Instruction is so much more than a grading system, and I’ve been very fortunate to have an incredible Math Coach help me learn good solid instruction.  Those links between topics, they happen because I’ve designed my instruction to pull those links out.  We have discussions that I have carefully guided towards my greater goal.  It’s important that I teach those overall topics.

For instance, my student teacher and I sat down and came up with the three big ideas of Algebra II.

1)  Functions
2)  Inverses
3)  Symbolic manipulation to highlight aspects of other representations

Those big ideas aren’t going to show up on any assessment as a standard.  But if I’ve done my job right, then they’re not able to master all of those lower skills without approaching those big ideas.  If they are only focused on learning the procedures, and you’re only assessing the procedures, what does that say about your instruction?

2 thoughts on “SBG issues

  1. I think that you have hit the nail on the head about not conflating the grading “system” with instruction. I actually haven’t changed much of my curriculum or presentation of it this year, even though I’ve done a total overhaul of assessments.


  2. I agree with you about the distinction between curriculum and assessments, and I definitely agree with #1 and #2 as two of the big three ideas of Algebra 2. I also agree with what I THINK is the main idea of #3, but I might phrase it a little differently. I believe I would call it “fluency between and among representational and symbolic systems.”

    But then again, that’s probably just me.

    Elizabeth (aka @cheesemonkeysf on Twitter)

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