Posts Tagged ‘Marzano’

Standards Based Grading Rehab

Assessment-based Individualized Learning

Individualized Learning

We’ve all heard the figure of speech: “They can’t see the forest for the trees.”

We teachers tend to have the opposite issue: “We can’t see the trees for the forest.”

Teachers want to see students as individuals (and we often claim that we do so), but we have been culturally inculcated to see our students more in terms of groups. Sit in any staff room at lunch time and you’ll hear the following: “My fifth period is so low.” “My kids are so caring this year.” “My last period is out of control.” “I love my EL kids in that class.”

Now, teachers don’t really see every student as reflective of the whole, but the groups do provide a means generalization and comparison. When teachers generalize and compare, they have some notion in mind regarding the object of comparison. Such objects may include other classes, past years’ classes, “the ways we used to do things,” or often “how it was when I was a student.”

This identification of students in terms of comparative groups influences both our instructional and evaluative practices. The underlying notion of the bell curve permeates our group thinking and teacher experience tends to reinforces the notion that some of any group will really get it; some won’t get it at all; and most will sort of get it. We design our lessons, units, and tests accordingly although few would readily admit to doing so.

Teachers might say, “I teach to the middle.” “My lessons are designed to teach grade-level standards.” “My smart goals include ‘25% basic, 50% proficient, and “25% advanced.'” “This is an honors class (or remedial class) and so…” “I’ll get called into the principal if I have too many D or F grades.” “My colleagues will be upset if I give too many A‘s.” “We have common final exams, so my results (or grades) have to match those of my colleagues.” Administrative pressure, peer pressure, and “being a team player” values reinforce group think.

Our traditional ABCD, and F grading system is tied to seeing students as groups. Were teachers able to teach and grade students as individuals in terms of progress toward content and skill standards, a considerable amount of rehab would need to take place. A 12 step program to change the way we teach and evaluate students might look like this:

The 12 Steps of Standards-based Grading Rehab

1. We admitted we were powerless over group think, generalizations, and arbitrary comparisons—that our instruction and evaluation had become unmanageable, ineffective, irrelevant, inaccurate, and ethically questionable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, that is the belief in the value of the individual.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our teaching over to God and standards assessment-based individualized instruction.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves and admitted that we don’t know everything and that we are not perfect teachers with no room for improvement.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our educational malpractice.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of our professional practice and be willing to change long-established and cherished beliefs and practice.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all: to students, to parents, to colleagues, to administrators, and to our profession.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other teachers and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Principles Copyright  1952, 1953, 1981 by Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing
(now known as Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.)


Mark Pennington is an educational author and re-thinker of his own teaching practice. Mark’s assessment-based individualized learning, featuring diagnostic and formative assessments is included in his grades 4–8 ELA and reading intervention programs found at www.penningtonpublishing.comCheck out and use these sample diagnostic assessments to individualize and differentiate your instruction and evaluation:

Get the The Pets Fluency Assessment FREE Resource:

Get the Vowel Sounds Phonics Assessment with Audio File and Matrix FREE Resource:

Get the Diagnostic Grammar and Usage Assessment with Recording Matrix FREE Resource:

Get the Diagnostic Mechanics Assessment with Recording Matrix FREE Resource:

Grammar/Mechanics, Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary, Study Skills, Writing , , , ,

Teaching the Class and Individuals

Perhaps the greatest guilt-inducers for any veteran teacher are these two questions:

1. Do you know the individual needs of your students? 2. Are you teaching to the individual needs of your students?

For those of you still reading, let’s provide a bit of context to those questions:

Teaching the class is important and takes an enormous amount of energy and skill. Doing it well takes years of trial and error, professional development, and probably some natural ability that just can’t be learned or taught. It’s both an art and a science.

By and large, teachers do a great job at whole class direct instruction. Teachers know their subject areas. They know how to plan instructional units, how to prepare standards-based lessons, how to teach comprehensible lessons, how to provide their students with appropriate practice, and how to assess whether their students have mastered the unit and lesson objectives. Teachers have also learned the classroom management skills to enable most students to make significant academic progress. They know how to teach the class.

However, teaching the individual is quite another skill set.

Teaching the individual student is far more challenging and satisfying than teaching the class as a whole.

When people asked me what a do for a living, I tell them I’m a seventh grade teacher. Of course they ask, “What class do you teach?”

I repeat, “Seventh graders.”

Now, I realize they want to know that I teach English-language arts and reading intervention classes, so I’ll stop being snotty and tell them what they want to hear to satisfy their curiosity. However, I try and get across the message that I’m really teaching students, not a particular class. You elementary teachers have it easier… people don’t expect you to be subject-specific.

Now I like English-language arts as a subject area: the reading, writing, speaking, and listening. And I do enjoy planning instruction for my classes. But I like the seventh graders much more, because they are far more interesting to me than my teaching Walk Two Moons or The Giver for the thirtieth time. Seventh graders are more interesting because they are all individuals.

If you’re ready to take the step to individualize instruction, check out these resources: FREE ELA and Reading Diagnostic Assessments and the 1000 ELA and Reading Worksheets. The free assessments provide the data you need to know the individual reading, spelling, grammar, and mechanics needs of your students. The worksheets include the skills, practice, and formative assessments you need to teach to the individual needs of your students.

Here’s what you get in the 1000 ELA and Reading Worksheets…

1000 ELA/Reading Worksheets

1000 ELA and Reading Worksheets

• 77 Grammar and Mechanics Worksheets (L. 1, 2)
• 145 Language Application Worksheets (L. 3)
• 21 Phonics Worksheets (R.F.S.S. 3)
• 14 Syllabication Worksheets (R.F.S.S. 3)
• 43 Comprehension Worksheets (R.I.T.S. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8)
• 73 Spelling Sort Worksheets (L. 2)
• 102 Spelling Pattern Worksheets (L. 2) All K−8 sound-spelling patterns
• 56 Grade 4 Vocabulary Worksheets (L. 4, 5, 6) Complete grade level program
• 56 Grade 5 Vocabulary Worksheets (L. 4, 5, 6) Complete grade level program
• 56 Grade 6 Vocabulary Worksheets (L. 4, 5, 6) Complete grade level program
• 56 Grade 7 Vocabulary Worksheets (L. 4, 5, 6) Complete grade level program
• 56 Grade 8 Vocabulary Worksheets (L. 4, 5, 6) Complete grade level program
• 64 Rhetorical Stance Quick Write Worksheets (W. 1, 2, 3, 4, 9)
• 42 Essay Strategy Worksheets (W. 1, 2, 4, 9)
• 35 Writing Skill Worksheets (W. 1, 2, 3, 4, 9)
• 40 Study Skills Worksheets
• 64 Critical Thinking Worksheets
• Answer Booklet
-Perfect for new and veteran teachers alike.
-Great for “Oh no! They finished early.”
-The substitute teacher’s best tool.
-Independent homework
-Quality individualized instruction in the writing and reading contexts.
-Study skills/advisory/lifeskills/ELD/special education classes
-Both remedial as well as gifted and talented worksheets

You will love these resources!

Grammar/Mechanics, Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , , , ,