Grading from the Inside Out: Bringing Accuracy to Student Assessment through a Standards- Based Mindset.

Tom Schimmer. Solution Tree, 2016, 216 pp. Principal, September/October 2016

Tom Schimmer.
Solution Tree, 2016, 216 pp.

Principal, September/October 2016

Grading From the Inside OutStandards-based grading (SBG) is a hot topic in education today. As schools transition to using a growth mindset in grading and assessment, many educators have found that we also need flexibility in our grading systems. This may sound simple, yet to implement this, we need a paradigm shift. In Grading from the Inside Out, Tom Schimmer gives principals the tools to undertake SBG.

This interesting read explains the research behind SBG and gives real examples of how the ideas work in schools. Schimmer challenges principals to keep an open mind as they read. Teaching and learning are much different today, he writes, so it’s time that we make a shift in grading too.

Each example includes the school and the school leader’s Twitter handle, so readers can contact them. Every chapter also includes a “How to Bring Parents On Board” section with real examples of how to engage parents. This can be helpful, since it can be difficult for parents when we make shifts in education.

I particularly enjoyed the chapter on why and how to repurpose homework. Schimmer emphasizes that homework should be used for practice not grades. When bringing parents on board, educators should focus on the purpose of homework rather than the amount and the importance of parental support. This way, “teachers can explore and implement a variety of ways that make homework more meaningful,” he writes.

This book can be used as a schoolwide or a small group book study. Schimmer’s questions at the end of each chapter challenge readers to decide on immediate takeaways and how to implement them. Readers can then relate the information to their own school situation.

As a country, we have begun to transform both teaching and learning. Now, it’s time to change our traditional grading system to one that matches standards-based instruction. Both teachers and administrators could use this book to debunk myths about SBG and implement a grading system that promotes student improvement and confidence. I’m excited to use some of these practices in my school this fall.

Reviewed by Jenny Nauman, principal of Shields Elementary School in Lewes, Delaware.

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