Standards-based grading is not preparing students well for college


Have you noticed your English grades are just blank in Powerschool this year? For many years now, teachers have been talking and preparing us for the standards based grading switch, which is now finally upon us. Many teachers in the past have graded assignments on the scale 1-4, but grades have stayed the same A-F on Powerschool. However, this year English teachers have made the full switch to this new style of grading; some absolutely love this idea, but I think it’s preparing students for a rude awakening once they get to college.
In the traditional form of grading, students simply get assigned assessments and worksheets with pretty firm deadlines and are graded on accuracy. They receive a percentage grade, and it’s usually the teacher’s preference if the student can retake or do extra credit to boost their grade. With standards based grading, students are graded on the “Essential Learning Outcomes,” and receive numbers 1-4 based on their understanding of the concepts, rather than how accurate they are on each given test or assignment. With each individual standards based grade, retakes are often available. As the student improves in those standards, their grade will improve. There also are usually soft and hard deadlines, but as the grades can change throughout the semester, the deadlines are not as important. This may sound like the ideal form of learning in school, but as I have observed in English and Journalism this year, it seems like this grading system isn’t preparing us much for higher education.
In college, students are given firm deadlines and graded on the A-F scale. They may be given a few assignments, but for the most part everything that is graded are big assignments like tests, quizzes, essays, and projects. These big assessments and projects have one deadline and you get one chance and one grade for it. Current high schoolers are still pretty used to this usual grading system, as it has only changed in English classes for now, so this will not be much of an adjustment. However, the big plan is to convert everything to standards based, so future kids would only know this new style of grading and learning, where there’s less personal responsibility on learning something by a certain date. Many would not know how to complete an assignment well and on time without having redo’s or very detailed feedback to improve their score.
In life in general, many things have firm deadlines and don’t give out second or third chances. Scholarships for college and job applications are two very timely things that aren’t generous about their set deadlines. Same thing goes for almost any kind of job; if you are given a task you aren’t given multiple tries to complete that one task. You might be talked to or given a warning if you fail or mess up the first time, but if you consistently don’t meet deadlines and requirements people are not going to want to hire someone like that.
I think standards based grading is an excellent way to start out school and use in elementary schools, as they are just starting to learn how to do homework and turn in assignments. Then in middle and high school they should continue traditional grading, or at least keep A-F and have firm deadlines so students will be better off in the future. Retakes are a wonderful way to learn the material better if it wasn’t learned the first time, but instilling the thought of limitless retries on homework and tests is not helping students learn in a responsible way. As overwhelming as homework and assignments can be with the traditional system, it’s better to be stressed and learn how to manage your time and responsibilities now, rather than your first year out of high school and in the real world.