Why did Paradise Unified School District revise the elementary report card?
In 2010, the State Board of Education adopted new, rigorous academic standards for California. In the following years, Paradise Unified School District has worked to implement aligned curriculum, instructional materials, and assessments, and as of fall 2017, an elementary report card based on the new standards. PUSD’s goal is to improve student achievement for all students in every classroom, every day. Research supports standards-based grading and reporting as a basis of communication that will help students learn more effectively through better feedback for teachers, students, and parents.
Goals of Our Standards-Based Grading System
- Focus on student achievement – Other factors will be reported separately.
- Not everything is included in the reported achievement level – Teachers look at a student’s performance on activities, such as daily schoolwork and projects, to monitor student learning, identify strengths and weaknesses, and plan for future instruction.
- Standards-based achievement is not based on averages – The final achievement mark on the standards-based report card represents the learning level at the end of an instructional period. Students are not penalized for mistakes made at the beginning of the learning process.
What is the difference between standards-based grading and traditional grading?
Traditional grading is easy to spot because it typically involves:
- Simple letter grades
- Assessments based on teacher-defined criteria
- A single overall grade per student based on a combination of related and unrelated assessments of skills, knowledge, performance, and conduct over a period of time.
The main advantages of this method are simplicity and professional freedom. However, it results in a very limited measure of a student’s abilities. The ‘A’ on a child’s report card might thrill parents, but this grade doesn’t convey any precise information. Standards-based grading overcomes this problem.
The essential qualities of standards-based grading involve:
- Rubrics with meaningful labels
- Assessments based on standards
- Multiple scores per student: one for each standard that reflects the student’s ability related to the standard at a certain moment in time
What is a "Growth Mindset"?
- Fixed Mindset - People believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits; brains and talent alone create success.
- Growth Mindset - People believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work; brains and talent are just the starting point.
"Students' mindsets - how they perceive their abilities - play a key role in their motivation and achievement, and...if we change students' mindsets, we (can) boost their achievement." (Dweck 2015)
With standards-based grading, students are able to practice mastery of standards without concern that imperfect practice work will drag down their grades. Only summative assessments are included in the gradebook. In addition, teachers and students work together to reflect and evaluate lessons, reteach, and reassess for proficiency. In this way, the Growth Mindset facilitates motivation, optimism, and a love of learning.