The story behind the numerical grade placed on each progress report and report card now is transparent for all to see. The teachers of Yes Prep North Forest are working overtime to ensure that instruction is rigorous, meaningful, and assessed appropriately.
The rigorous component looks a couple of different ways, depending on the student. In Algebra I students have the opportunity to begin learning at the basic level and through differentiation students have the opportunity to increase the rigor upon demonstration of understanding. The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills allow for this type of practice as many of the TEKS have a skill standard and an application standard. By breaking the instruction down we have enthused students who would have otherwise already given up. They are excited about receiving instruction and actually mastering what they have been taught.
According to Patricia L. Scriffinyâ€™s book titled â€śSeven Reasons for Standards Based Gradingâ€ť, grades should be meaningful and they are a reflection of the knowledge an individual has acquired. In Algebra I, the process of learning information is sequential and often times students cannot move forward if they lack prerequisite skills. Standards Based Grading makes it very plain to see where a student has become stationary in the learning process. Each standard is covered in at least one classwork assignment, one homework assignment, and one quiz before being tested. Students can become stationary anywhere in the process which then calls for intervention either one on one or with individuals who are stationary on the same standard. Students are given unlimited number of times to redo assignments however they must receive a personalized intervention first. This process requires more attention to detail from the teacher and time to actually grade the reassessments however it is one of the most powerful tools a teacher can have. There is no guesswork involved and all stakeholders have access to track student progress.
Lastly, testing students is no longer a stressful event where teachers â€śhopeâ€ť their students do well. Upon administering an assessment, the teacher will know exactly which standards the students will master and which ones they may struggle with.Â Assessments are aligned to the information that was taught and there is no longer one overarching score that indicates mastery or failure. In Algebra I, there are anywhere between seven and twelve standards which all have individual grades. Students can feel good about what they have mastered and can reflect on the areas that need improvement.
The 9th graders of Yes Prep North Forest are excited about learning new information and seeing the results of their hard work. On any given Saturday, 15 of the 35 students I teach, come and work on various assignments to improve their grade or to assist their peers. The time spent on Saturday is not mandatory and the students enjoy the freedom to come and go as they see fit. It gives them a sense of ownership in their educational endeavors and creates a sense of community amongst my students.