SBG Question: Keep Moving Along?

I went to the school today, met with the person who’s taking on 7th grade social studies to give her my resources, met with a student to try to determine math placement, moved some stuff from my old room to my new, told one of my principals that I’m going to be using standards-based grading.

He had some questions.

The biggest thing he was worried about was this (and this is me trying to reword the question):

What about the student who doesn’t get these first few concepts? In a context where you are allowing for reassessment on those learning targets, does it make sense to keep moving along in the curriculum?

One thing I said in response was that in my experience, later math can illuminate earlier math. Sometimes you don’t truly understand a concept until you’re a few steps down the line and you see how it fits with other concepts.

Another thing I thought about since I left his office was that this isn’t an issue particular to a grading system. You’ve got kids who get left behind conceptually in a traditionally-graded classroom, too – more so, I’d argue, because of the whole “you didn’t learn it by Thursday’s test, too bad for you” approach. I think SBG encourages kids to go back and learn, or to get help learning, much more than the traditional system.

What thoughts do you guys have on this question?

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  • David Cox  On August 4, 2010 at 11:23 am

    The thing that gets me about questions like the one your administrator posed is this: What was it like the traditional way? People are so willing to poke holes in new ideas but leave the old ones alone. I say you go all Socratic on ’em and return fire with questions then watch the implosion occur.

  • JamiDanielle  On August 4, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    I agree with you and David here. The problem of moving on in the curriculum is not inherent to this particular grading system. It seems strange to throw the “but wait, how will this prevent global warming” logic at it simply because its an innovation.
    It may not solve the problem, but it at least allows permits delayed progress in a way that the traditional system does not.

  • Amanda  On August 11, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Thanks, David & Jami. Often, my principal asks questions that make me think about things I hadn’t considered regarding a new idea, but on this one I think the question is something that would come up regardless of which grading system is in use. It just wasn’t something I had anticipated, so I wasn’t sure how to respond right then. I did tell him that it wasn’t an issue I had seen from any of the many bloggers who are using SBG.

    (Sorry for taking so long to reply – I went out of town.)

  • Jason Buell  On August 11, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I like how you cited bloggers as your source. How did that go? I think I’d get an eyeroll. Either way, like I said to you on twitter. It’s a question that I just don’t get. Not sure what he think’s the standard methods are.

    • Amanda  On August 11, 2010 at 5:02 pm

      Heh…he’s used to me talking about people I “know” via the Internet. He appreciates that I’m reading about what others are doing and trying to figure out which ideas would work well for our students.

      I do wonder whether he has an understanding of what exactly SBG means. He didn’t ask me what it was when I mentioned it, and I didn’t get a chance to clarify what his conception of it is.

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