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No A’s or F’s with Standard Based Grading

By Staff | Mar 20, 2016

BEA music teacher Peter Koenig updates the board.

The Blue Earth Area School Board spent the first hour of their two hour board meeting last Monday night getting a ‘lecture’ from two of the members of the BEA teaching staff.

Eighth-grade English teacher Elizabeth Stallman updated the board on her use of the new Standards Based Grading system, while music teacher Peter Koenig told the board about the things going on in all the music departments as part of ‘March – Music In Our Schools Month.’

Stallman explained how she has implemented the new grading system into her classroom.

“I first have to get the students motivated and to take ownership of their own work,” Stallman said. “Content and curriculum comes second after the students get motivated.”

The students set their own goals, called rubrics and create how they will learn the material in the class.

Instead of grades such as A’s or F’s, based on testing percentages, the grades are actually levels of learning for each project.

“We use a one to five system, with one being not even trying and a five being above and beyond an eighth grade level,” Stallman says.

And the students grade themselves using the one to five system. However, after grading themselves, Stallman looks over their work to see if they actually deserve that number.

“They have to prove to me why they think they deserve a four on this project, when I think it should be a three,” the teacher explains. “And they like to try and prove the teacher wrong.”

Koenig told the board about all of the music concerts that are slated for the month of March, and said their theme for the month is “Music Inspires.”

“Music does so many good things for all of us,” Koenig said. “It helps us create, perform, respond and connect.”

Koenig also reported on the numbers of students in the various music programs.

The music teacher also related how he uses ‘plickers,’ a paper chart students hold up to answer questions. Koenig can scan the room with his phone and find out how many are right and how many are wrong.

He also uses an app that shows the soundwaves various music or other things make.

In other business last Monday night, the School Board:

Approved a revised budget for the current school year which showed higher expenditures than had originally been estimated. Revenues were at $15.008 million in the new budget, with expenditures of $15.470 million, for a deficit of $461,544.

Approved the one bid received for resurfacing the track this summer. The bid was from Fisher Tracks for $105,750.

Approved changes and additions to the spring sports coaching list, as well as a contract for Cindy Alleven for high school English teacher.

They also approved the retirements of Sharon Van Kley (youth development coordinator) and Glenn Gaylord (custodian). Both have served the district for 35 years each.