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 Homework and Grades

  “Although the shift from traditional grading practices to standards-based grading may require educators, students, and parents to reframe their existing beliefs and expectations about grades, the benefits to all stakeholders are powerful enough to warrant the change” (Heflebower 2014).

What can my student do to raise his or her grades in a standards-based class?

The goal in a standards-based class is to ensure that students demonstrate an understanding of the essential outcomes for the class, so any efforts to raise a student’s grade will have the same goal. The student should meet with the teacher to determine where improvements in learning need to take place and fill out a reassessment agreement to create a plan on how to relearn the material and when to be reassessed.

Redoing an assignment encourages students to reflect on their thinking; this also helps them understand that learning, not the grade, is most important. If the student demonstrates a higher level of mastery on the outcome assessment, then the newer score will be given more weight. Again, the focus is to improve the student’s mastery of the material, so extra credit points are not used in standards-based classes.

What is the role of homework in a standards-based classroom?

  • Homework should be assigned purposefully, keeping in mind different types of homework: practice, preparation, review, application, extension.

  • Homework is a meaningful practice when it is generated by responding to a specific need of a class or student.

  • Homework should always receive feedback, but should only be scored and reported if the teacher is confident that the work reveals a student’s independent ability.

  • Teachers intentionally make connections between assigned work and academic success.

  • Students are motivated to do homework when they clearly understand the learning target and evaluation; when learning goals and assessments are meaningful; when they believe they can successfully learn and meet expectations.

How do we motivate students to complete homework?

It is important for students to understand that their teacher is evaluating their performance on learning tasks, or homework, each day. Teachers analyze student work to determine growth and improvement towards mastery of a specific skill or content.

Parents and teachers can help motivate students by talking about the role of practice/homework. Grading is meant to communicate learning. It is not a reward/punishment system. The ultimate goal is for students to demonstrate high levels of understanding by the end of a course. Students are motivated to do homework when they clearly understand the learning target and evaluation; when learning goals and assessments are meaningful; when they believe they can successfully learn and meet expectations.

We also help kids understand how the role of practice in sports/music is similar to that in learning. The reward is the game and/or performance. Student-athletes are not rewarded after every practice. If a student chooses not to do an assignment, not only are they missing an opportunity to practice a skill, they also miss an opportunity to display mastery of an outcome to their teacher. It can help by having these conversations with students to rethink homework.

Why doesn't my student have a grade yet?

Because standards-based learning focuses on the learning a student demonstrates, grades  may not be updated as frequently as they were when every assignment impacted the grade. This shift is especially noticeable at the beginning of the semester when it may take a few weeks for the teacher to collect enough evidence to determine each student’s level of mastery. However, while the overall outcome grade may not change as frequently, the teacher is still recording performance on other learning tasks, such as homework, quizzes and in-class activities that provide important feedback about what work is being done. Please contact your student’s teacher at any time if you have questions about your student’s grade.

If my child receives a 1 on a 4-point scale, does that mean he has earned a 25%?

One common misconception that arises when moving to standards-based education is that a student only needs  to get a 25% percent to pass; this misconception arises when we do not understand exactly what the 1 on a 4 point scale means. In a traditional grading system, a 25% means that a student answered 25% of the questions correctly. In SBE, this means that a student reached the 1.0 level on the rubric, which is based on the learning the student demonstrated and completely unrelated to how many questions the student answered correctly. This distinction is  important as standards-based education sets a much higher level of expectation for student learning.



» Parent Guide to SBE