I’ve been teaching 8th grade for 11 years, I also taught 6th and 7th one year each before that. I love teaching 8th grade, mostly the content, but also the ability to joke around, talk to and get true honesty from my students.
I love SBG. I feel that it has value and I have seen the improvement in my student’s understanding overall. Since I teach 8th grade, however, I do have to have quarterly cutoffs due to report cards. So have my SBG system set up with certain skills each quarter and a quarter final at the end to work on long term retention. I allow my students to reassess skills throughout the quarter until around the Monday of the final week of the quarter. I like to cut it off then so they can focus on the final and so I can grade them and get them in the gradebook in a timely manner. It NEVER fails that they wait until the VERY last minute to reassess and try to do it without practicing.
However, I DISLIKE the end of the quarter time. I wish we had semesters like the high school, especially since I teach a high school level course (Algebra 1) to my accelerated 8th grade students. I use SBG and it would be much easier on myself and the students if they had longer to reassess and build skills together. This quarter I offered my students the ability to NOT take my 3rd quarter comprehensive final if they mastered all of the 3rd quarter skills. I was surprised at the number of students who achieved it and annoyed at the students who waited until the last minute to try. I do not offer extra credit due to the nature of my classroom and the ability to reassess as many time as they want.
I guess I am a little disappointed that while using SBG, it still comes down to grades, not the overall learning that I have been stressing all year. Isn’t it more important that this student learn and understand the skills and concepts from Algebra, rather than have a certain grade for the honor roll award? I WISH that my district required gradebook allowed for gradeless grades, where feedback was more important and there was no visible overall grade. I also wish I could use any gradebook of my choice, which I cannot.