Posted in education, mastery based learning, physical education, standards-based grading, teaching, Uncategorized

The difference between a traditional curriculum and a standards-based grading curriculum.

If you are new to this concept, there are a lot of questions going through your mind right now. It may take some time, but I will break it down for (in hopefully a simple format to understand). My goal is to keep the posts focused on one or two ideas only, so if there is something that you really want to know and I haven’t gotten to it yet, please contact me!

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The first question to ask yourself is, “Does your curriculum have a clear purpose?” and the second important question to ask yourself is, “Do your students have significant evidence to prove that they have met the purpose of your curriculum?”, and lastly, the third question to ask yourself is, “Do your parents and students know the exact learning expectations for your curriculum?”

These three questions are the biggest difference between a traditional classroom and a mastery-based learning classroom.

What is Standard-Based Grading?

Standard-based grading is grading to a specific standard that both the teacher, the student and the parent know and understand- using benchmarks as indicators (SHAPEAmerica National Standards). Refer to the post about “learning targets” to see a visual.

  • The letter and number grades are removed. Instead of scoring for points correct (100%), teachers look for students demonstration of skills/concepts (ES- exceeds standards, MS- meets standards, PS- progressing towards standards, LP- limited progress), that are clearly aligned with a learning target derived from a PE standard (again, refer to the post about “learning targets” to see a visual of this).
  • There is no failing! Students can keep trying until they master a skill. First Attempt In Learning”. 
  • Students are also provided with different opportunities to demonstration mastery, as teaching should not be a “one size fits all” approach. I will discuss the choice program that my co-worker and I use in a later post (i.e. personalization).
  • SBG allows students to track their growth and then describe their strengths/weaknesses using evidence in their portfolios. Evidence is the main component of SBG. Can your students justify their learning with evidence? Portfolios and trackers will be discussed in a later post.

What is the difference between a traditional curriculum and a standards-based grading curriculum?

** The biggest difference is that the learning is personalized and the students own their learning providing evidence of mastering the standards!**

Traditional Educational System:

  • The grade is cumulative and typically a 60% is all that is needed to pass and move on. Behaviors such as homework, changing for PE, effort (subjective measurement) are measured into the grade. These are behaviors and do not measure the child’s progress towards the Physical Education standards.
  • Traditional PE Curriculum:–  The teacher chooses a variety of activities to teach and then links a standard to the activity. Activities are chosen based on seasons, teacher’s favorite sports or activities they are competent in, gender specific activities, and often times, not all approaches to wellness are included and not all of the benchmarks.

Standard-Based Grading System:

– The student use evidence to support their claims.

– The focus is on mastering skills (standards). The “grade” is reported as “ES, MS, PS, LP” and the only the Physical Education standards are reported out. The behaviors  such as changing, homework, sportsmanship, attitude, behavior, etc are just as important and greatly valued, however, they are reported out separately in what our district calls, “Habits of Scholarship”. Refer to the post “Habits of Scholarship” for details about this.

– Assessments & Feedback helps teachers/students stay focused on the goals of the class, align all parts of the curriculum to the learning target and gives specific, actionable feedback about strengths and weaknesses.

SBG PE Curriculum 

A SBG curriculum is created in reverse from a traditional curriculum. The standards and all of the indicators are the first part of the curriculum map and the activities are the last part of the curriculum map.

This is how you an SBG curriculum is created:

  • 1. Standards; skills and knowledge that students should demonstrate.
  • 2. Performance- Based Assessments/Rubrics/Evidence of Meeting Standards
  • 3. Activities/Learning Outcomes

As you can see, the activities are the last thing to add and the standards are the first thing to write down. This is the opposite of a traditional based curriculum. The most important part of the curriculum is that the standards are measured–the activities are the route to meeting them.

Later posts will show the tracking of student learning through the use of student portfolios in the gym.


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