Teachers adopt new standards based grading

Maira Nigaar, Staff Writer

e rise, but the system is notjust grading students – studentsare grading the system.

Instead of a single, overall grade, this standards based grading system breaks down thecontent of the subject into small- er sub-topics using a numbered scale rather than percentages. This scale is later translated to percentages when inputted into a student’s grade.

Principal Christopher George views this system as accurate, supporting its separation of top- ics and ability to clearly deliver information to a student.

“It’s not about the score you get,” George said. “It’s about being very clear whether you understood that concept or not.”

Despite George’s emphasis on the bene ts of a standardsbased grading system, he be- lieves that the grading of this system must not be viewed as points, and should not be averaged when translating into grades.

Honors Chemistry teacher Jack Sarkany has been using this system for two years. He sees it as a more reasonable way to assess and grade students com- pared to the traditional system where point values are attached to each question.

Sarkany used to employ a grading scale of 0 to 3, but has changed to 0 to 4.

With this system, a 4 is equiv- alent to an A, or 100 percent, displaying that a student fully comprehend a concept. A 3 is a C, or 75 percent, showing a student partially understands a concept. A 2 (50 percent), 1 (25 percent) and 0 are F’s, and theyare given when the expectationsare not met by the student.

Sarkany differentiates a student’s ability as a 4 through 0 based on the number of mistakes.

Sophomore Vishali Vallioor believes if the grading scale was out of more points, such as 10 or 100, students who are graded through a typical grading sys- tem wouldn’t have an advantage over others.

“If I had to change one thing it would be to make the standards based system out of more points rather than less,” Vallioor said.

But Sarkany strongly be- lieves that his scoring of 4 to 0 is more reasonable than a higher set scale.

“How could you de nitivelyquantify the difference between a 10 and a 9?” Sarkany asked. “There’s no way that someone could have that many points of delineation that could say, unless it’s very arbitrary. If you really have an A understanding of Honors Chemistry, you should know everything forwards, backwards, in, and out.” Despite Sarkany’s reasoning of having a smaller grading scale, many students disagree

with this approach to grading. “I don’t think that it’s fair for the same curriculum to follow different systems between classes because the standards based grading makes our grades change by whole percents, sometimes even tens of per- cents, which means that I might end with a score not representative of my knowledge at the end of the semester,” sophomore Thomas Files said.

While Sarkany uses a scale of 4 to 0, Geometry teacher Lucas Orozco decided to create a higher scale of 10 to 0 to put students at a greater ease.

“I think it is more friendly for students to translate, which is why I went with it,” said Orozco, who began using this system last year. “Ultimately, it is the same as the three pointsystem, but people are just usedto seeing percentages out of 10.”

Despite the differing gradingscales, both Orozco and Sarkany strongly believe in providing students with multiple op- portunities to strengthen their knowledge and grasp the con-cept. With multiple attempts,students are to revisit the same material throughout the year.

“With my class in particular,

one of the things I do to help everything go a little better is giving multiple attempts,” Orozco said. “The byproduct of it is good because it encourages students to continue studying that concept.”

Because of varying grading systems among teachers, Oroz- co debates the fairness of the standards based system.

“Is it fair? I don’t know, it’s hard to say a yes or no to fair, to be honest,” Orozco said. “May- be somewhere in the middle.”

Honors Physics teacher Deb- bie Sater, who uses this system with a 4 to 0 scale, agrees.

“With the standards based[system], it makes it a little eas-ier to see exactly where pointsmight or might not be earned,”

Sater said.
In classes that use standards

based grading, grades comprise 100 percent of assessments and students don’t benefit from completing homework.

“Homework is assigned as practice. This gives students the option of doing as much or as little as they need to, but they need to be aware of their own learning,” said Sater. “I’ve increasingly found that it’s just been copied, over the last five or six years, so you don’t get to hide behind having homework points.”

With the lack of supportfrom homework points and the low set scales, students and their grades to be fluctuating extensively.

“Due to being out of such small amount of points, it can easily fail to adequately display the knowledge of the student about a given subject,” said sophomore Dasha Orel, who is in Sater’s Honors Physics class.

“For subjects where it ispossible to know the material but mess up on the answer, the point should still be given,” Orel continued. “If an answer had several parts, a minor mistake shouldn’t cost the entire point.”

Teachers using standards based grading aren’t completely satisfied with it yet, but they believe it’s a good system to assess student learning.

“It’s been a lot of work and it’s still a work in progress,” said Sater.