Is Standards-Based Grading Too Much for Parents?

Parents often struggle to understand the changes in the American educational system. These parents often grew up with letter grades. They understand what each letter means and believe that letter grades make good sense. Imagine the distress of these parents when they hear that the education system might be moving to something different. The mention of standards-based grading can be scary for these parents. This new standard makes a lot of sense, though. Parents might find that standards-based grading provides a better picture of where students are and where they need to be. Though it might be difficult in the beginning, standards-based grading can bring about positive results for students, teachers and parents.

Breaking down the difficult formula
One of the positives of the traditional letter grade system is in its simplicity. Parents know where their students stand. They can use their own experiences to gain a better understanding of what the students have actually done in their classes. Standards-based grading models require parents to dig a little bit deeper. There is no longer a simple letter grade to digest. Parents have to look at the detailed information given to them by the teacher. This might seem daunting or even unnecessary to some parents. The truth about this information is that it can allow parents to take a more active role in the education of their child.

The detailed information provides a better picture of what the child is struggling with and what she has done well. This type of feedback often leads to better education going forward. Students and parents will know the areas where the child fell short. With this information in hand, parents have the ability to help their children meet their goals. This is preferable to the letter grade system. Under that system, students can be left to wonder where they went wrong in earning a certain grade.

Clearly explaining the data
In order for parents to properly utilize the data, they need to have a firm understanding of it. They need to know what each metric means and what the standard indicates. The key is to have solid communication between the teacher and the student. This will unlock a better understanding for the parent and will alleviate any concerns that the parent may have. This can be accomplished in a number of different ways. First, parents and teachers need to take advantage of the opportunities offered in the conference setting. This can be a good time to explain what the standards-based grading means and how it impacts a certain student. Teachers and parents can also link up through regular e-mail communication.

A solution that benefits everyone
The proponents of standards-based grading will tell parents that they need to show a little bit of patience. It might seem difficult to understand the system at first. It might also be difficult to understand the need for a system shift. After all, if the letter grades were good enough for parents, they should be good enough for today’s children. The new standards allow for the possibility that all students can succeed. Rather than using a bell curve system where the B earners are compared to the A learners, the new standard compares all students to a target level of proficiency. In this way, those students are competing against themselves. They understand what is expected of them. They also have the chance to improve in order to meet that standard. With the patience of parents, these things can happen.

Byline
Karl Stockton writes for kendall.edu. Education is of paramount importance for the health of society; contact Kendall for information on their teacher certification programs and degrees.

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