As our first quarter closes once again and all my seniors try to lock in the highest grades they can before applying early action and early decision to colleges, I'm grateful for the flexibility built into Standards-Based Grading (SBG). Don't get me wrong...I'm NOT excited to schedule dozens of reassessments within a two-week period. But I AM excited to watch SBG work. My students are using and understanding our course skills, figuring out where they need improvement, and actually demonstrating growth!
How do I manage many reassessments?
First, as I mentioned in my original reassessment post, I create/modify/find a few extra problems for each skill in my courses. I usually do this over the summer or, sometimes, as we navigate through our units during the year. By having a bank of problems, the intimidation factor of creating individualized assessments is drastically lowered.
Second, I schedule the reassessments in clumps. If I already have one student booked during a free period, I try to add as many as possible to that same window.
Third, I view the opportunity to meet with a student before their reassessment as a gift. Oftentimes, this will be the first time I truly speak to a student one-on-one with 100% of my attention on them. This is my chance to show them the value of seeking help, to hear about their approach to and feelings about our course, and to build trust. During this time of physical-distancing in the classroom, this one-on-one connection is critical to my students feeling seen, supported, and confident.
Finally, I grade the reassessments right away. With my AP® students, I often review it with them or even have them look at the solutions on my screen as we talk through the problem. Often my high-level students are consumed by the stress of challenging schedules, college applications, parental pressure, and the intrinsic challenge of physics itself, and this immediate feedback reduces the density of their stress cloud. Further, the more I can affirm my role as a collaborator and supporter, the more relaxed the student becomes, and the more they can simply focus on the learning.
Do I see improvement?
Simply, yes. Of course, there have been a few occasions when a student does worse or the same, but overall, yes. This week alone, I saw growth on EVERY reassessment. Even better, this improvement has a lasting, positive impact on how they apply those skills on future analyses. The reassessment process and the transparency of the SBG system open students' eyes to the power they have over their performance, reframing the definition of a grade from a burdensome label or brand to a productive and useful tool!
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