Besides wanting to change the overall culture in my classroom, the main reason I wanted to try standards-based grading was to increase the number of students passing my classes. Well, here we are after the 1st trimester, and I only had very minor improvement in that goal.
I have 18 Algebra 1 students, and 4 of them ended up with a C- or above, which is my cutoff for credit. That is an absolutely horrible percentage, and about par for the course ever since the new standards were put in place for high school. Most finals were in the 50% range and lower, and few students had kept their old assessments or had their folders organized.
The most disappointing part is that my system allowed students to re-take any skill they were low in as many times as they wanted until they got the score they wanted. The ability to pass was in their hands and not many of them cared. This leads me to believe there are further large changes I need to make to "make" more students make better decisions about their academics.
We have students who can get a 98% on a History test where they are given a study guide with questions that they can memorize the answer to, but continually fail math assessments they choose not to study for because they can't apply the same techniques. I don't yet know how to bridge that gap because math is so different because changing where a number looks or where it goes changes the way you solve a problem. You have to have a broader idea of why the numbers are related, and many of my students don't care to get there.
My 10th grade students were much more successful with this grading system, but they were also more successful before it. Sadly my 11th/12th grade students also mainly failed to gain credit for the same reason as the 9th graders. Obviously my teaching them over the past 4 years has made no impact in their study skills or desire to be academically successful.
As for SBG, I have made a few minor tweaks. Students can only re-assess on Mondays and each skill may be re-assessed a max of 3 times. They can now earn 2.5/5 and 4.5/5 scores. Any student who scores below a 3 on their assessment MUST come in during lunch or after school for re-teaching. I'm hoping by being more harsh they realize it would just be easier for them to study a little bit and be successful themselves.
I am also reaping some of the benefits of re-using skills I have already created, which is cutting down on the time I am spending from week to week. I am also tweaking skills tests I've already given as I get better at writing skills tests that assess the exact things I want the students to grasp.
I am hoping that now the students see how things will be, they will adapt better to it. I will continue to be hopeful, because I think I have given them a system they can be successful in, but they need to earn that success.