Minister Updates On Standards-Based Grading

February 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

Minister of Education Diallo Rabain provided an update on the work being undertaken by the Department of Education to progress the Standards-Based Grading initiative.

Speaking in the House of Assembly today [Feb 15], Minister Rabain said, “Standards-based grading measures student proficiency in a subject against a defined course objective. The overall objective is to have consistency in grading practices across every school System-wide; and, to give greater attention to the meaning of student grades; both for students and their parents.

“Before I go any further I want to remind my Honourable colleagues and the community at large why the Department of Education made the decision to transition from a traditional grading system to a Standards-Based Education System. The reasons are intentional and will underscore the overall mission of the Bermuda Public School System, which is to provide our students with quality instruction that empowers them to reach their potential.

“Standards-Based Grading has been proven to transform teaching and learning; that is, transform the work that takes place in classrooms each day and the way that teachers teach and assess how children learn. It is our expectation that as a result of the implementation of this grading and reporting system, students, teachers and parents will have more accurate information about what students specifically know in each subject, and what they are able to do.

“It is important that parents are included in this transformative journey. Thus, we will be holding parent information meetings next week Thursday, February 21st at the Whitney Institute, the Purvis Primary School and TN Tatum Middle School.

“The meetings will start at 5:45pm prompt. All SBG Committee members will attend the information meetings with some of the members functioning as the lead facilitators at each training site.

“We encourage our primary and middle school parents and the general public, to attend these information sessions so that they can obtain a clear understanding of Standards-Based Grading and learn more about how it will benefit their children. The Committee members will give a general overview of Standards-Based Grading Education and hold a question and answer session at the end of their presentation.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker,

I stand before you and my Honorable colleagues this morning to provide an update on the work being undertaken by the Department of Education to progress the Standards-Based Grading initiative.

Mr. Speaker,

Let me first cast the minds of my Honourable colleagues back to November 2018, when I first shared with this Honourable House information about Standards-based Grading and how the Department of Education was indeed Charting a New Course. At that time, I explained that Standards-based grading is both a grading and reporting system that is very clear in communicating to students what they know about the subjects they take and what they are able to do.

Standards-based grading measures student proficiency in a subject against a defined course objective. The overall objective is to have consistency in grading practices across every school System-wide; and, to give greater attention to the meaning of student grades; both for students and their parents.

Mr. Speaker,

Before I go any further I want to remind my Honourable colleagues and the community at large why the Department of Education made the decision to transition from a traditional grading system to a Standards-Based Education System. The reasons are intentional and will underscore the overall mission of the Bermuda Public School System, which is to provide our students with quality instruction that empowers them to reach their potential.

Mr. Speaker,

Standards-Based Grading has been proven to transform teaching and learning; that is, transform the work that takes place in classrooms each day and the way that teachers teach and assess how children learn. It is our expectation that as a result of the implementation of this grading and reporting system, students, teachers and parents will have more accurate information about what students specifically know in each subject, and what they are able to do.

Mr. Speaker,

I will also add that Standards-Based Grading ensures that students and parents have clear expectations of what performance is required for mastery of subject content, concepts and skills that are linked to a set of achievement standards. Students will be positioned to self-assess, and gain insights about their performance in each subject; and teachers will be able to strengthen their delivery of high quality instruction in the classroom. Both the enhanced teaching and learning that will result from the sustained practices of Standards-based grading will help to transform public school education.

Mr. Speaker,

In early October 2018, a Standards-based Grading or SBG Committee was established comprising of Department of Education technical officers, school principals and teachers who have acquired specialist knowledge of the standards-based grading framework. To-date, this Committee has been actively and diligently engaged in organizing and executing on deliverables, which are mapped out in a four-year SBG implementation plan that they developed. The work of the Committee members is in support of the first priority of Plan 2022, which focuses on high quality instructional practices; and teaching, learning and grading practices.

Mr. Speaker,

The work carried out by the SBG Committee in January this year comprised the following:

  • 1. Educating officers in the Department and over 600 educators about the process of change and the “what” and “why” of Standards-Based Grading;
  • 2. Surveying school staff and using the data collected to guide professional development;
  • 3. Establishing a professional development calendar for Education Officers, Principals, Deputy Principals, School Staff, SBG Champions and SBG Technicians; plus providing training for these stakeholder groups;
  • 4. Conducting school support walkthroughs to begin the process of standardization of practices based on the observation data collected;
  • 5. Establishing a communication plan to build content knowledge, awareness and buy-in of SBG principles and philosophy;
  • 6. Creating and distributing a SBG monthly newsletter to parents, teachers and leaders; and,
  • 7. Preparing for the February 2019 professional development workshops

Mr. Speaker,

Just this week, members of the SBG Steering Committee conducted workshops specifically for primary and middle teachers. These were all day professional development sessions held on February 12th and 13th, 2019. Establishing the focus of these workshops was critical to meet the needs of our educators.

As such, the SBG Committee intentionally surveyed teachers back in January and also conducted walk through observations in various classrooms. The data collected from the survey and the classroom walk-throughs indicated that a several teachers at the primary and middle school levels write learning intentions and communicate them to students. Given this, the content of the February workshops focused on deepening teacher understanding of constructing quality learning intentions and success criteria. The workshops I understand were both engaging and empowering for our educators.

Mr. Speaker,

The Department also commissioned a group of Principals to provide a Standards-Based Grading workshop for their colleagues which was also held on February 12 and 13, this week. The workshops focused on learning intentions, unpacking learning intentions, and success criteria.

Mr. Speaker,

There will be more professional development training in standards-based grading held during this month. The SBG Champions, that is, teachers from both the primary and middle schools will be trained on how to conduct SBG professional development. These training workshops will be held the week of February 18, 2019 with the intent of building intellectual capacity in the SBG framework. The training sessions will focus on communicating and clarifying learning intentions, constructing success criteria and the walk through observation protocol.

Mr. Speaker,

On Thursday, February 21st, another training session will be held for Principals and Department of Education Officers with the same focus areas. These types of training workshops will be on-going for various stakeholder groups in the public school system up until the end of the school year in June 2019.

Mr. Speaker,

The work has started. We are now building on the knowledge and skills of all educators and school leaders. As we progress the training in Standards-based Grading and Reporting the transformation will steadily materialize for the Bermuda Public School System. To demonstrate our commitment to this initiative and transforming the System, we have also seconded three teachers to support the Department’s Acting Staff Development Officer with implementing the plan for Standards-Based Education.

Mr. Speaker,

As we begin our transition to Standards-Based Grading, our teachers have been asked to continue to use a point scale of zero to four to score the work performance of their students. A lot of questions have been raised about the availability of student progress reports. We want to assure parents that student reports will be provided in early March, early May with a final report at the end of June before the close of the school year.

It is important that parents are included in this transformative journey. Thus, we will be holding parent information meetings next week Thursday, February 21st at the Whitney Institute, the Purvis Primary School and TN Tatum Middle School. The meetings will start at 5:45pm prompt. All SBG Committee members will attend the information meetings with some of the members functioning as the lead facilitators at each training site.

Mr. Speaker,

We encourage our primary and middle school parents and the general public, to attend these information sessions so that they can obtain a clear understanding of Standards-Based Grading and learn more about how it will benefit their children. The Committee members will give a general overview of Standards-Based Grading Education and hold a question and answer session at the end of their presentation.

Mr. Speaker,

Lastly, let me take this opportunity to thank the 15 members of the SBG Steering Committee for their commitment and determination to see this initiative implemented with fidelity, and until completion. In appreciation of them individually and collectively as a team, I want to share with you who the members are:

  • 1. Kali Douglas [Chairperson]
  • 2. Keisha Allen Smith
  • 3. Kalley Baxter-Williams
  • 4. Jeanna Bean
  • 5. Tamicia Darrell
  • 6. Lisa DeSilva
  • 7. Nicole Grant
  • 8. Linda Holdipp
  • 9. O’Brien Osborne
  • 10. Shequita Parson
  • 11. Daveta Patterson
  • 12. Kennita Phipps
  • 13. Shinah Simons
  • 14. Philip Trott
  • 15. Charisa Woolridge

Mr. Speaker,

We are thankful for this team and the work they are doing for our children. In closing, Mr. Speaker, the journey to transform the public school system requires collaboration among the Department of Education staff, school staff, parents and the community. It requires a commitment by all to the work that is being and will be carried out in the best interest of Bermuda’s children. This work is Charting a New Course for transformative change in the Bermuda Public School System. We anticipate change! Thank You.

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