BESD 53 Petition
We, parents of students in the Bourbonnais Elementary School District, wish to express our sincere concerns regarding standards-based grading (SBG) implementation. We believe BESD 53 desires to provide excellent education to our children and has successfully done so in the past. However, several obstacles are currently preventing excellent education. We believe implementation, although with honorable intent, has been rolled out with insufficient preparation for teachers, administrators, and parents, and the system is confusing and inconsistent. It is our desire to collaborate with the school district to bring about open and honest dialogue and changes that improve implementation.
We bring several prominent concerns:
- Grades should be informative to teachers, parents, and students. Considerable confusion and absence of progress reporting has occurred since implementation. Many parents feel completely removed from the educational process of their child(ren) without any homework, weekly grade updates, or ability to understand the reported scores.
- Grades are incentives for children at this age. The concept of achieving mastery is an abstract concept that few students in elementary school grasp, and those that do will succeed in school no matter what the system of grading. Without grade incentives, motivation to complete work and achieve at high levels is minimized, especially knowing that work can be reassessed if not completed well.
- Good study habits disappear with SBG, as implemented. Students will not be prepared for higher education, and it may hurt the college admission process.
- Students who do not test well historically have been able to balance achievement with homework scores. As implemented, these students’ scores may not adequately represent ability.
- The implementation of SBG appears subjective and inconsistent. Staff expectations are not uniformly communicated to parents and are ineffectively communicated to both parents and students.
- Scholarly research on SBG is sparse, but some current research is not favorable:
- “No significant differences were found on all the MAP scores” (Reys, Reys, Lapan, Holliday, & Wasman, 2003).
- “No significant difference existed between SBG students and traditionally-graded students at either level” (Rosales, 2013).
Reys, R., Reys, B., Lapan, R., Holliday, G., & Wasman, D. (2003). Assessing the impact of" standards"-based middle grades mathematics curriculum materials on student achievement. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 74-95.
Rosales, R. B. (2013). The effects of standards-based grading on student performance in Algebra 2.
“Nobody cares about scores anymore, we can just reassess...Nobody strives for 4’s…I don’t learn anything from doing homework and now there’s no motivation to do it...All the kids are lazier now.”
--7th Grader at BUGC
“I have virtually no information that allows me to have any involvement in my child’s education, which is ironic since the system is supposed to be more informative.”
--Parent of a BUGC student
"Oh mom, here are my papers from school. You know there aren't any 4's in the pile, but can you at least look at the 3's. It is amazing how I went from all A's last year to barely passing now."
--8th Grader at BUGC
“My children have received a few 2's within this academic year. When data is requested to support this grade, so that I may help my child at home, no data is available to justify it or to outline reasons for the submitted grade.”
--Parent of a BUGC student
“The new system is geared toward helping the lowest scoring children and assumes the best and brightest don't need any encouragement because they will motivate themselves.”
--Parent of a student at Shepard
We are requesting that the school district:
- Clearly communicate student progress so parents can be effectively involved in their children’s education and clearly communicate changes and improvements to implementation as it occurs.
- Develop a plan to get feedback from students and parents, including both a parent and student advisory board and methods of regularly collecting feedback from parents, teachers, and students. We request these be rolled out mid-January, 2016.
- Discuss the implications of SBG practices, including study skills, motivation, fairness, and consistency.
- Bring a consultant to the district who is experienced in SBG and hired to identify flaws in implementation and suggest improvements.