Standards-Based Learning

Teaching in a Catholic school has its advantages (and some disadvantages as well…) and one of of them is the significant lack of standardized testing we do. In my school, only students in grades 3, 5, and 7 complete the annual Terra Nova tests. In addition, all students in grades K-8 complete the Terra Nova testing that are enrolled in our school’s Title I program, which, interestingly enough, is a branch of  the public school.

Since we don’t feel the necessity to test, test, test kids every year, we have moved to a new approach in standards—standards-based grading.

This school year, my school is one of several pilot schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago to implement a standards-based report card. No longer do we have A, B, C, D, and F grades. We now rely on a scale that indicates how well the student understands a specific skill. The benefit of this grading system is that no longer are we comparing students to each other, which standardized testing and the A-F report card do, but now we are comparing individual students to the skills they can demonstrate.

It is time that we move away from standardized testing systems in which students are compared to other students. What information does that tell us as educators, parents, and students about what each individual child knows? A standards-based grading approach works a lot better to show exactly what a child knows and what that child needs to continue working on. To me, that information is much more relevant to my teaching than stanines and percentiles that are found on standardized test results.

What are your thoughts about standards-based grading? Does your school use standards-based grading?

Let me know in the comments.

Here’s the Archdiocese of Chicago’s website about the new standards-based report card: Archdiocese website


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