Journey of Reform: A Phenomenological Study of the Perceived Impacts of Standards-Based Grading on Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction
Action Research Report Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Education
This phenomenological study included interviewing a purposeful sampling of eight teacher-leaders in the Sioux Center Community School District in Sioux Center, Iowa, to discover the perceived impact that the district’s professional development reform to standards-based grading (SBG) and personalized competency-based education (PCBE) had on their curriculum, instructional, and assessment practices - as well as on student learning. Analysis of these experiences and perceptions was undertaken with the intention to deepen the understanding of what implications, principles, and elements might be critical to the following leadership goals around such reform: advancing district-wide guidance around next steps and destinations for short- and long-term professional development planning; creating potential "best practice" tools for monitoring fidelity, efficacy, and teacher confidence; and providing insights to prevent teacher burnout. The results of this study suggested that the development and establishment of a standards-based grading framework is a long-term process. Standards-based grading accompanied with an emphasis on personalized learning had significant impact on instructional practices, workload, and student learning and required a mindset shift for all parties involved.