When Kraft introduced the Oreo in China, they almost pulled it from the shelves. They asked people why they didn’t like it. Many said that the cookie was too bitter and the cream too sweet. But most of all they realized that the experience of eating the Oreo was the key to its success in America. So they created a series of commercials where children showed their parents the correct way to eat an Oreo and sales doubled.
Standards based grading is often introduced into a culture unprepared. We often tell parents and students that it is awesome and transformative. But the culture of our schools is in prepared. We expect students to suddenly have the skills and foresight to take charge of their own learning. Often they are suddenly lost, confused or treat it as if nothing really changed. It is not uncommon for student, new to mastery, only to show up at the last possible moment to retake everything they hadn’t mastered that semester. Some might say that the student is just lazy, but for most student this is just an example of culture shock.
When students and parents are introduced to mastery, we must not just tell them about it. We need to incorporate scaffolding, or perhaps some training wheels, to help them orient themselves. What about requiring retakes and recording? What would you do to help your students transition?