This post by Brian Stack of Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston, NH addresses some of the challenges of traditional grading practices in a competency based system.
What we know to be true is that you can’t have a system that honors the truism that “learners learn in different ways and in different time frames” and arbitrarily rank students at periods of time: Weeks, Quarters, Trimesters, Semesters… Wouldn’t it be better if grades were based on what a student is and isn’t able to do upon graduation? Does it matter that students did it as Freshmen or Sophomores, or is it more important that a student has learned it regardless of when it was learned? – It is equally impossible to say to a student that “mistakes are inherent in the learning process” while simultaneously saying that if you fail, your grade gets averaged and goes down. Does this encourage students to take risks, challenge themselves, and explore the possibilities of their own abilities? Both of these are foundational principles in our district vision and strategic plan.
These are discussions we will be having as we move forward with Customized Learning in RSU18 and at Messalonskee High School.