Standards Implementation: Reporting


One of the headaches of assessing standards and proficiency in an academic setting can be that it is largely done so in an environment that has traditionally utilized "grades" or percentages. Grades were never intended to demonstrate proficiency at anything: they were designed to show how students are doing compared to others in general knowledge. That's all.


So how to integrate standards reporting into a grading system that intentionally works against it? Here's three possibilities:


Go all in

If you set up your student expectations as standards and indicators, you are likely to find it liberating in that you are now comparing student progress only to that student's progress. Grades become obsolete. See to it that your academic standards/I Can Statements have been clearly articulated so that every student knows the learning targets. Then simply have a blast enjoying the process of watching each one work towards them. When it comes time to report, if your school has a proficiency based report card, list out the academic standards. One caution here is that because many schools marginalize the Arts with regard to student face-time and academic expectation, there may be pressure to minimalize the number of standards you report out on. If you have indeed been thoughtful about your essential academic expectations, have these discussions with your administrators well ahead of time. There must be a buy-in by all stakeholders moving forward with your work, and this buy-in must be reflected in the quality and quantity of standards being reported out.


Dual Reporting

This is one of the reporting strategies of choice across Maine and beyond. The reason is simple. In this system, traditional grading remains, and standards or proficiency scores are simply added on as another component that is reported out. Pros include that it is logistically easier to wrap your arms around. "Tradition" with regard to a grading culture remains (that could be considered a con depending on who you ask...). The cons include having to explain how a student could be getting an A- but not meeting proficiency on a certain standard or indicator. It may also diminish the importance of proficiency as a concept ("It's okay, I'm still getting an "A-"). But as far as reporting goes, this simplifies things a bit and makes the transition to standards a bit less daunting.


Grade Translation

This strategy involves record keeping as standards, but reporting them out as grades. This is a viable but dangerous option. For one, there is no uniformity whatsover from school to school what the numbers should be translated as. Worse yet, this invites the temptation to report out in numbers with decimals (4, 3.5, 3.0, etc.) which is a significant step removed from "exceeds", "meets", "partially meets/emerging" or "does not meet". Even worse yet is the inevitable comparison to the collegiate 4 point grading scale, which has nothing at all to do with standards. Have deep discussions with colleagues and administrators before going down this path. Yes, there are ways to implement this while still holding true to reporting proficiency, but there are likewise many ways this approach can also cause the train to go off the track. Be transparent in your goals and make sure this approach is a valid way to reach your objectives.


A quick word about organizing your online gradebook

When reporting standards, you will have to organize student progress on each individual indicator. One approach is to lay out the indicators for the course ahead of time, and that is all that appears. As the term begins and initial assessments occur, in whatever form that takes, numbers start appearing underneath each indicator. As the term proceeds, those numbers will be replaced by more recent scores; a "2" for a certain indicator will be replaced with a "3" once a student has objectively met that proficiency. The drawback here is that you are not able to show the history of how that student scored along the way in multiple assessments. The positive is that anyone can quickly and easily see how a student is doing in meeting the standards for your class at that point. Alternately, you could set up your gradebook as "assessment events", next to or under which you can enter the scores for each indicator assessed. This shows a fine historical progression, and is much more informative for student and teacher alike. The conundrum with this approach is that it promotes data overload. Talk with your administration or tech folks at your school about your electronic gradebook and how to set it up in such a way that is both thorough and manageable.