Exploring the Core Podcast

A Standards-Based Approach

Episode Summary

Welcome to the EXPLORING THE CORE PODCAST, where we delve into the elements that make up our education system and learn more about how that system can improve for the benefit of all students in schools today. I'm Greg Mullen, and in this episode... I talk about **how** teachers can use a standards-based approach for improving student academic learning. I'll also be talking to Karin Hess out of Vermont, a leader in Standards-Based Grading and Assessments, about her thoughts on where things are, where we’re headed, and the challenges we face as more schools adopt a standards-based approach to academic learning. Thank you for listening, I hope you enjoy the show.

Episode Notes

Podcast and Episode Copyright 2019 Exploring the Core LLC

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Episode transcripts available at www.ExploringTheCore.com

Episode Release Date: December 22, 2019

Mullen: "This first step being introduced in this episode is part of a larger shift that we must recognize as more than just a grading policy. This standards-based approach will change the way we address what skills, which plans, how we motivate, and create the incentives involved in teaching and learning."

Mullen: "This kind of skill alignment across grade levels will improve instruction and assessment of such a third grade fraction standard. When you begin defining what is proficient, and you look at your assessments for these specific standards, you’ll need to consider whether it’s more important that your students communicate a rationale for that understanding or if answering a multiple-choice quiz gets you what you need."

Mullen: "What the standards are doing here is allowing teachers to do what they intuitively know they have to do to help a student learn a skill by reviewing a student’s prior knowledge and connecting that to current academic expectations; but we are now doing so with an intention that allows us to reflect and record exactly which skills our students have mastered, identify where in that skill’s development students are stuck, so that students, their teachers, and their families can help them work through related skills that may additionally support concepts behind what they’re learning."

Interview: Karin Hess, https://www.karin-hess.com/

Hess: "A problem in the beginning was, that you could assess the standard once, the student did well, and you said they mastered that standard. We know that wasn’t true - if that were true, sports teams who could show that they could pass a ball, they’ll do it perfectly because you’ve mastered it, but there are a lot of conditions on how you pass a ball, when you pass a ball, so I think with the standards-based being what you have to learn, it’s how do you have to demonstrate it.  "

Hess: "A school has to be really thoughtful and I think the first thing they have to look at with standards-based grading is, are they still using a hundred-point scale to determine a percent? Because that’s a scale where 60 of the points describe failure and 40 of the points describe some learning is taking place."

Hess: "Before the common core, every state was developing standards and most states would use bloom’s taxonomy to describe what the students were doing at each grade level. I was working with a state committee in 2003 / 2004, and I suggested to them, because I had come across Webb’s work and this work was only really being used in alignment studies."

Hess: "The matrix was the best way to show that you could have analysis light, or analysis deep. Evaluation light, which I call an “ug” - an unsubstantial generalization, an opinion that has no support for it, which is something I had a professor write on our papers and handed them back, and if we made claims and didn’t support them, he called them “ugs”. Kids understand an “ug”!"

Hess' Cognitive Rigor Matrix Resources:


Episode Transcription

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