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Standards Based Learning

One of the most frustrating things a student can receive in school is a poor grade without understanding why or how to improve. Grades should be markers of learning and progress, but A B C D F grades are very vague and do little to provide beneficial information to students. 

What is Standards-Based Learning?

Standards-based learning (SBL) is a system of education which focuses on student learning and grades based on demonstrated understanding of specific concepts. Instead of a simple letter, students receive grades in multiple different learning targets and can see which concepts they understood well and which they need to improve on.

Standards-based learning provides explanations of the concepts and material that students should know at each point in their education. These are called learning standards, which provide a baseline that is consistent across all students at this education level. Teachers’ instruction is guided by these standards and they work to make sure their students learn all of the expected standards they need to before leaving their class. When students receive report cards, they receive a list of learning standards and a grade (normally on a 1-4 scale) on each standard of how well they mastered the material.

What is Standards Based Grading?

How Does standards-based learning benefit teachers and students

Provides meaning to grades – Students understand why they receive each grade and the breakdown of how they did on each standard rather than a receiving a vague letter with no explanation.

Keeps students and teachers accountable – With specific learning standards expected from the beginning of the class, the teacher knows what they are expected to teach. With the use of consistent formative assessments, teachers and students know how well they are doing on these learning targets and can adjust as needed to ensure proficient understanding by the end of the course.

Better feedback for improvement – With grades broken up into different learning standards, students can immediately see which areas of learning they need improve upon. Teachers can also use this information to improve instruction; if they see that most of the class has a lack of understanding in one standard, they can focus on that standard more.

Provides information to differentiate instruction – With learning standards common to the class and frequent formative assessments, the teacher knows which students are each level for each standard. Using this information, they can differentiate instruction and give different leveled assignments to different groups of students based at the proficiency level they are at.

Students become more self-motivated – With the goal of SBG being student mastery and understanding rather than getting the most points, students become more motivated to truly understand the material. The “Will this be graded?” question is slowly replaced with earnest questions to better understand the material.

Tracks Standards Mastery – With standards-based grading, teachers can focus their instruction and progress analysis around how students are mastering the content required for each standard. Tracking standards mastery helps instructors make sure they are adequately preparing students for the content that will be tested during the state test

Adapted from Edulastic. Everything You  Need to Know About Standards-Based Grading. August 27, 2018.