The Student News Site of Black River Falls High School

BRFHS Paw Print

The Student News Site of Black River Falls High School

BRFHS Paw Print

The Student News Site of Black River Falls High School

BRFHS Paw Print

Trimester 1 Recap: Standard Based Grading


Going into the 20-21 school year, students and staff knew they were facing a year for the books. Although this year there have been many unexpected hurdles and bumps in the road, some of the changes inside the school were planned. 

One of the expected changes was the introduction of standard based grading (SBG) into more classrooms. 

“Standard based grading gives students the ability to focus less on their grades and more on actually learning the material,” said junior Quinn Hanson. 

Using an outcome based grading system, teachers can take a more individual approach to assessing students’ understanding of the material. Rather than numbers and letter grades, the focus has shifted to mastery. 

“I definitely prefer standard based grading over normal grading. Last year it was really confusing, but this year I have way more teachers doing it, and it’s really lowered my stress,” said senior Graham Rockouski. 

Given the circumstances this year, the wiggle room that comes with SBG is much needed for some students. 

“Now, I don’t have to worry about turning in an assignment a day late and getting points taken off. Sometimes I get called into work or there’s an emergency,” said Rockouski. “As long as I can show I know what to do, I’ll be okay.” 

Although standard based grading can provide grace long term, it can also cause grades to fluctuate dramatically. Because the outcomes make up a majority of the letter grade for the class, missing or having a zero on one has a large impact. 

“I feel like I’m learning the material but my grade isn’t necessarily reflecting that,” said Hanson. 

Because of this, SBG requires more communication not only between students and teachers, but students and their parents. 

“It can be stressful because my mom doesn’t really understand the new grading process, so to her it can look like I’m completely failing when I’m really not,” said senior Maddy Coplien.

This fall, coaches also had to adjust. According to the BRFHS Co-Curricular Handbook, if a student received a failing grade in his/her last grading period, they’re ineligible to play. Without set grading periods, random grade checks could pose issues in conjunction with SBG. 

“During cheer season, I would get nervous that my coach would pull grades. I have never failed for an extended period of time, but with standard based grading, your grade can change from an A to an F in one day,” said Coplien. 

In the words of Rykken, SBG is ‘a perfect idea, imperfectly executed.’ In some ways, taking away normal grades has complicated things for students. 

“I like the outcome based grading as long as it’s done correctly, sometimes I feel like if it’s done wrong it’s worse than the normal way,” said Coplien. 

Like anything else, there are positive and negative attributes. Some students feel the shift might need to be larger in order to reduce stress levels for both students and teachers.

“I haven’t really noticed any shifts in teaching style from last year to this year,” said Hanson. “If I could change one thing about Standard based grading, it would be that more of the assignments were open class discussions where we can prove our mastery rather than the standard assignments that are expected to be completed on our own time.”

For many students, grades only become an issue when their workload becomes too heavy. 

“I do feel as though the workload has been heavier this year than it’s been in the past, and I’m not sure if that’s the result of standard based grading or just the classes I’m taking, but I definitely have been more stressed this year,” said Hanson. 

Through an emphasis on feedback, it’s clear that the administration is dedicated to working out these kinks and reducing stress for high school students. 

“I think my teachers that’re participating in standard based grading have been doing a really good job. It’s clear, and easy to understand. I really like it this year,” said Rockouski. 

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About the Contributor
Ellie Wirtz, Editor-in-Chief
Ellie Wirtz is a senior at Black River Falls High School and the editor in chief of the Paw Print. This is her third year of involvement with the SRL class, inside and outside the classroom. Over the summer, she was selected for and participated in the Student Reporting Labs Academy. When she isn't editing or bossing the staffers around, you'll find her around town at one of her various jobs, or in bed.

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Trimester 1 Recap: Standard Based Grading