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## SBG: A School Wide Effort

My Principal sent me an email today with a link to White Pine High School in Ely, Nevada.  I’ve never heard of Ely, Nevada, but I would love to visit after reading their website.  This school is implementing an Outcome Based Grading Plan school wide.  They present a great argument with several examples and research defending the need for a different grading plan than what schools traditionally use.  There is a wonderful rubric explaining the four point SBG scale.  (If you are looking for a rubric to show students and parents, this is a great place to start.)

One of the things that I found most interesting is that the school is transitioning to a SBG format in two phases.  I have to agree that it is a shock to eliminate grades or go to a 0-4 scale without educating the community.  In my town, one elementary system went to this and everyone assumed 4 = A, 3 = B… and this is not the case.  In a traditional grading system, the grades are not evenly distributed.  An F can be a 55% or a 0%.  The 0-4 scale distributes the grades evenly.  The school is offering community sessions throughout the year to explain this to the public and answer any questions that arise.

I haven’t talked to anyone from the school directly, but I am anxious to find out the results of this project.  If anyone has any connections at White Pine or any insight on school wide SBG, I would love to hear about it.

Categories: General, SBG
1. October 26, 2010 at 3:55 am

“everyone assumed 4 = A, 3 = B… and this is not the case.”

Why is it not the case? A, B, … are completely arbitrary grades, as are 4, 3, … .
One can put an interpretation on either one with equal validity. Furthermore, it is standard practice to convert letter grades to those numbers for computing GPAs (which almost all college admission offices expect).

Perhaps you mean that the school changed the meaning of their grades at the same time that they changed from letters to numbers. Is there any evidence that they actually changed the meanings? Did the distribution of grades change? Did students who were formerly A students become 3 students, and former B students become 4.0 students? Or was it just relabeling the deck chairs on the Titanic?

• October 26, 2010 at 11:41 am

I agree that all grades are arbitrary. The school system put a rubric in place for the 0-4 scale and redistributed the grades evenly. There are examples and definitions of each level of work.

I worked for a University Admissions Office for three years and I can tell you that at my school, we did not look at the GPA very often. The first item we based admission and scholarships on was the ACT or SAT. There are too many high schools that inflate their grades and some even use a 5 point scale for honors classes. My current high school gives the students 3 points on their final grade in each honors class and 5 points for each dual enrollment course. This is definitly grade inflation.

I hope this school is not just relabeling deck chairs (I love this reference and may borrow it), but I hope they are placing the emphasis on learning and not creating students who get A’s by following rules and completing assignments. That seems to be their goal when you read the explanation. I’m anxious to find out how it is working for them.