Monday, April 9, 2012

Standards-based Grading - the Onramp to Common Core Implementation

“Why aren't we flying? Because getting there is half the fun. You know that”.
- Clark Griswold

I just participated in the second of four webinars on common core implementation provided through Marzano Research Laboratory and Jan Hoegh. (@MarzanoResearch) I’ve gone through a variety of reactions and emotions related to the adoption and implementation of common core standards. It is safe to say it ranges from a “we can do this” to sheer panic. Today, I would describe my feeling as gratitude.

I’m grateful…
  • ·        For my district’s choice to focus on the implementation of standards-based grading as a district initiative.
  • ·         For content collaboration time that is built in to the daily schedule to define (and revise) essential learning goals, develop proficiency scales, and create common assessments.
  • ·          That for the first time in my career, I believe we have the closest thing to a guaranteed and viable curriculum we have ever had – one that is written, taught, and assessed!
  • ·         For my belief that our locally-defined essential learning goals will closely align with the common core standards in most categories.
  • ·         That we have a starting point.
  • ·         We can take our current reality and look for areas of weaknesses or gaps.
  • ·         That we can continue to focus on increasing rigor and the quality of instruction as a result of the common core.
  • ·         Changing grading practices resulted in extensive work around standards and assessment.
  • ·         For the Kansas City PDN and the Marzano Grading & Assessment Consortium with Bea McGarvey.

I see our work to implement standards-based grading – using Marzano’s proficiency scale model – as the onramp to a full-scale implementation of the CCSS in 2013. Traveling down the road to standards-based grading at the high school level has not been a road without bumps and road blocks to say the least. At times, I think we have all felt like making a quick U-turn back to Traditional Grading Avenue. But, I’m grateful we didn’t. I’m sure the journey towards common core will be a similar trip. My hunch is that we will be better prepared because of our experience with transitioning to standards-based grading.

I’m grateful for the challenges we will face in the implementation of the common core. It will be important to focus on the journey, not the final destination. Any curriculum worth the paper it is written on is never a finished product. The CCSS won’t be any different. It won’t be a Sunday afternoon drive through the park. I’m going to choose to think of it is an adventure, maybe something like Chevy Chase and the Griswold vacation in the Wagon Queen Family Truckster. If it turns out that way in the upcoming years, I will be especially grateful.

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