Drew on Standards 1

This is a comment by Drew that I don’t want to lose so here it is as a blog entry. What he says here and what Robert is pointing to is nothing less than revolutionary. The recent discussion here on this site has a transparency to it that reveals certain change hidden beneath it: the change from the old way of grading to standards based grading. I will put up information as I get it from Drew in a series of blog posts that maybe will be labeled Drew on Standards 1, Drew on Standards 2, etc. Below is the first in this series, with a little introduction right here:
As our 25,000 student high school district attempts to move to Learning Scales (or standards based grading) we are starting to train our fellow colleagues. California Standards and ACTFL’s position drive our district’s standards and really fit the CI classroom. There is resistance because the language does not allow traditional language teachers to use the scales easily. There are no points. There is no big math. There is only can you do X?
This introduction to scales will focus on Listening Comprehension.
Getting Started
Think about it like this to get started. We are only going to take 1 standard: Listening Comprehension. It should be a Monday/Wednesday activity in a CI-based class.
The California Standard is B: Communication; B x.2 Students interpret written or spoken language.
In my gradebook the standard reads:
Comprehension: Student describes the critical or essential elements of the text or audio source. The student exhibits no major errors or omissions
We want our goal to be 80% of students score 80% or better on a quick 5 question quiz.
According to Bloom’s Taxonomy, answering True/False question is measuring a low level of learning. Being able to restate the plot/problem is a higher level of thinking.
So to score a 2.0 (approaching standards) on a quick quiz, a student needs to answer 4/5 or 8/10 questions correctly on the quick quiz.
To score a 3.o (meets standards) the student needs to score 4/5 on the T/F but needs to write a 2 sentence summary of the problem or plot in L2. If we are doing our jobs staying in bounds using the target structures, and our story revolves round the target structures, this should easy.
These are a breeze to grade and my TA (a Spanish III kid) can do them because she has the quiz book and the notes. She write 2 or 3 on the quizzes and goes on to the next. (Most kids score 3?s which is NOT a bad thing. I have a standard and they know how to meet MY standard).
Voila. I have data that actually proves how my students can comprehend.
Jason has an averaged score of 3.0 on the 15 comprehension assignments that we have done. If I had to defend that grade to a parent it means that Jason can answer T/F questions and can restate plots/problems.
Daniel has an average score of 2.5 on the 15 comprehension assignments. I can tell Daniel’s parents that he can understand almost all of what’s happening in class but he needs to focus on the target structures and restating plots.
June has an average score of 2.0 so that means she can get those T/F questions down.
This is a tool for learning: June, stay for a second after class. Do you understand what I say in class? No? Oh no, let’s move you to the front so I can pay special attention to you, Wink at me when you need me to repeat it. I really want to see you get into that 3.o range and we can do this together.
Easy Grade Pro also tells me the average class score by standard. I know that my average comprehension score is 2.9. It means I’m too easy or my class understands me. I prefer the latter.
Those are real data.
Can you do X?
Holy Crap look at you=4.0 (This comes later)
You can do it but I have to help you=1.0 (This comes later too)



4 thoughts on “Drew on Standards 1”

  1. It is worth mentioning that Robert’s scale is a 5-point rubric. And mine is a 5-point rubric, as well. (I hope I didn’t misspeak for you, Robert).
    This was a hot discussion at our district. One school wanted 1-5 to match CSTs but then they started putting 0s in, which changed it to a six-point rubric 0-5. People have a hard time giving a 1 (on a 1-5) when no learning was demonstrated (because no learning is 0, right? No, its a 1). But as Robert and Ben say, and are absolutely right, the power isn’t in the number,the power is in the words here down there.
    It answers the question: At what level can you do X?
    Robert Me
    5 4 exceeds standards
    4 3 meets standards. [this is our target; this is where we teach]
    3 2 approaching standards
    2 1 partial understanding/partial success with teacher
    1 0 no demonstration of learning shown
    Last year a student had an F in my level 3 class (by not fault of his own, he just didn’t get Spanish I or II–he was playing my CI game. It broke my heart but he couldn’t DO what the rest of the class could.). He said I can’t have an F. I pulled out our last reading assignment and said read this to me. He couldn’t do it without me. I showed him where he fell on the comprehension rubric (1) and he understood WHY he was failing my class. He had a collection of 1s in all of the scales. It’s a sad reality but this is what our job entails.
    99% of the grades occur between 2 and 3 for me. My gradebook has a collection of 2s and 3s. Grade translations to come.

    1. No, Drew, you didn’t misspeak.
      While it is possible to get a 0 in my scale, the only way to do that is not showing up at all, and I usually leave that as a blank (which still counts a 0 but shows up as a red field, alerting parents and student to a missing assessment). As my colleague puts it, 1 = thanks for showing up. I’ll give a student a 1 for having a name on a paper. That really is a Far Below Basic performance, right?
      BTW, we use Aeries for grading.

  2. Will we be seeing more “Drew on Standards” posts? I’m looking forward to seeing the other modes and anything else he has. I want to get away from the traditional points-model grading system next year but I’m at a loss on where to start. Everything Robert, Drew and Ben are giving us on this topic is gold.

  3. The Denver Public Schools website has much information on this, and we have many posts here. The discussion about standards and assessment was started by Robert in May of last year – a year ago. The discussion over the past year in this space was powerful and new. We have made much headway on this.
    Chris your intuitive response on this is right on. It’s just that we don’t have a “result” that we in our PLC can use, as it were, and may not for another two or three years, and there is also the question of proprietary use of DPS materials.
    Here is a recent related email exchange on this general topic:
    A teacher wrote to me in a private email:
    I have a quick question concerning final assessments. I am moving from teaching Middle School Spanish to teaching Spanish II, 10th grade. I am looking for a final assessment that would best gauge my scholars’ language level by the end of the year. I work at a charter school in Memphis and am required to demonstrate data based, standard driven assessments. That said, I am lucky to have administration who are VERY supportive of the TPRS method. So, I have some wiggle room to be creative in the types of assessments I produce or select. I really like the Regent’s language Exam but before selecting it, wanted to ask what you prefer. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations? Any recommendations would be super helpful!
    I didn’t have a very good answer and so I asked Diana and she asked Jason, who responded:
    I go to the NY State proficiency and regent exam pages for WL and select test items there to make assessments , adding some of my own. Good, free stuff. Maybe get other teachers to help record pieces of the listening so there are multiple voices / accents.
    Warm regards,

    Of course, Chris, this will continue to be an ongoing discussion. My personal thoughts are that the next new frontier in TPRS/CI is going to be in assessment.

Leave a Comment

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

The Problem with CI

Jeffrey Sachs was asked what the difference between people in Norway and in the U.S. was. He responded that people in Norway are happy and

CI and the Research (cont.)

Admins don’t actually read the research. They don’t have time. If or when they do read it, they do not really grasp it. How could

Research Question

I got a question: “Hi Ben, I am preparing some documents that support CI teaching to show my administrators. I looked through the blog and

We Have the Research

A teacher contacted me awhile back. She had been attacked about using CI from a team leader. I told her to get some research from



Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben