Day 113 (of 187) not the day I thought it would be w thanks to #atassess #sblchat @tomschimmer & @sd47pd

Day 113 (of 187) not the day I thought it would be

Traditionally the 113th day of the school year has been one of the toughest. Not just for teachers or principals. For everyone. Mix of stress and bad weather? New year resolutions not working out?

But today was not bad at all. Maybe the distractions helped. We have a Music Festival kicking off today and running until spring break. We have a talent show on Friday. Maybe enough distractions to keep everybody engaged?

So instead I’m going to focus on a better part of the day – a district inquiry group looking at Standards Based Grading. We were using a very good book by @tomschimmer Grading from the Inside Out (at least until I finish my book😜)

One of his sections is “myths about Standards Based Grading” and I’ll share the Qs and my heavily biased thoughts/insights on each:

Myth one: standards based grading makes it easier for students

Landyism – yes: clarity in what is expected of a learner and then understanding specifically what they did well at and also (ideally one) what to improve on or work on next will make it easier for students than 7/10. Even my daughter who likes that she is getting As and on the principal list isn’t sure what the letters actually mean nor what else she could do for her learning…..

I say it again and again whether it is for an assignment or who is going to win a “top student” type award: do the kids know what the target is? 🎯 or is it something else that happens “to” them?

Myth 2: standards based grading is more work for the teacher

Landyism – it’s different. Instead of tallying ✔️s and Xs (which may be efficient ) focus on what is effective for learners – feedback that is timely (not in a fortnight unless playing Fort nite) and meaningful

I won’t pretend that giving quantity descriptive feedback is easy – but it is possible to have some preset sentence/bullets to choose from and cut and paste at times (especially if you already know what descriptors you will be wanting to see).

But it also means not everything needs to be assessed. Practice can be compared to a “finished product” and then have a discussion about what went right and what went wrong. Those conversations matter.

Myth 3: there is only me way to implement SBG

Landyism – they’re more like guidelines than actual rules….


The focus is on giving students feedback they can use to enhance their future learning & doing. Being accurate to what students have actually done, not based on behaviour. And once you start through the doorway of descriptive feedback based on standards, it’s hard not to keep personalizing the learning journey.

Edit: @garnethilman had a great blog about this the next day:

Myth 4: students are no longer held accountable

Landyism – want accountability? Don’t hide behind a “3/B” look at an efolio with a sample of work and a rubric/standard next to it. That’s holding feet to fire both in the task & it’s assessment. And as I said in #atassess – why does everyone have to do the same thing to show what they know?

And if there is nothing to show…

A) even that blank can have meaning

B) don’t let the kids show nothing but maybe differentiate so they can do something different….

Myth 5: students will be unprepared for the real world

Landyism: except for all the places where efolios are able to show what the individual has done. Not potential, actually done (or just as valid: illustrating what wasn’t completed)

– I like that this one got the most discussion in our group and again in #atassess

Ownership and showing what you have done is often more valuable than what you might do. As an interviewer once shared: a candidate said they’d be coaching and running clubs and and and but paused too long when asked if they were doing that at their current school…

It really was a brain engaging day. Not the way I thought it would be.


About technolandy

Principaling on the Pacific in Powell River BC Pushing 'technologization' in education: blending technology and curriculum seamlessly. Advocate for better understanding of Anxiety in Education (and use of self-regulation) Utilizing ePortfolios & Descriptive Feedback to personalize learning!
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