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  • Abner Oakes

The Ice Under the Surface: Preparing to Implement JumpRope.

During a team meeting the other day, we were sharing thoughts about calls we get at this time of the year, from schools and districts looking for a gradebook solution. What we hear during many of these calls is that they're using a tool related to their SIS or a mix of spreadsheets, and it's just not working. A quick Google search and, voila, they find us.

When we begin a conversation with a school or district hoping to implement SBG, one of the first things we ask about is the work that's already taken place - with or without a grading tool - to get teachers and administrators (and even students and their families) up to speed on the philosophy of standards-based teaching and learning.

With this shift to standards-based practice, I often use the metaphor of an iceberg. The gradebook is simply the iceberg's tip. To stakeholders, it's the visible part of this work. And that immense mass of ice below the surface? That is everything that supports that gradebook, such as the significant professional development that a school staff might undertake as a part of their move to standards-based teaching and learning.

Many schools and districts come to us having done this heavy lifting. They have a plan for implementation; they have buy in from stakeholders; they know that a gradebook is just that - a gradebook - and that there's much more happening around standards-based teaching and learning than it.

But like classrooms full of students who are at different points of readiness, schools and districts are the same way on their standards-based grading paths, and there are ways that we can help those that might be at more nascent stages: JumpRope has really smart people and offers a variety of professional development offerings.

We can craft a series of experiences and conversations that, we think, will set schools and districts up for success and effectiveness. Let's not talk about a gradebook just yet; let's talk about the standards-based classroom; rich, standards-based assessments; best practices for communicating with parents and other community constituents; and even the standards-based transcript. Let's first talk about the ice below the surface.

That sort of work together allows any school or district to get to know us, and likewise we get to know you and build a relationship. We always hope to become not just some ed tech service provider but a true partner in your school and district improvement efforts.

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