Was it a lot more work, for the staff? It seems, that any time that we are trying to hold the students accountable, it also comes with a lot more work for the teachers.
For instance, my district is talking about going to standards based grading, and by talking I mean, we are going to do it, just no one wants to say as such. I don't have a problem with standards based grading, because that's essentially how my class is set up anyway. One project covers a couple different skills. However, since standards based grading, only allows students to progress, once they have "Mastered" the previous skills, student are allowed/ required to redo work and retest. There are a couple of my coworkers, who have been dabbling in such grading the past year. They talk about how much extra work it is, because of all the students coming in, to redo everything. Also keep in mind, that standards based grading, also gets grouped with the "No zeroes" concept. And with that concept, you are not supposed to accept zero work. The question would then arise, "How do you get the students, to turn in something that you can actually grade?" The response, "YOU keep on the student, YOU call parents, YOU make them stay after school." See the problem? It was putting a lot of the work on the teacher. Multiply this by the amount of students, who didn't want to hand in proper work.
So that's why I ask about the attendance. Who was it making missed classes a hassle for, students, or staff?
Hassle with this approach is obviously on both sides. However, when I had a problem with a student, I would give warning that they had to step up, or there would be consequences. This would be performance or discipline type problems. Over the years I would give my warnings, change seating if needed, do other "interventions". When those did not work, I started calling home. Doing this means really having your facts in front of you, making certain to explain your position and the reason for you call, not as a whiner, but a concerned teacher. These included a statement that I would have to be in contact with principals if I did not see improvement, as I already had a paper trail of documentation. In 90-95% of the cases, major improvement that lasted. If it came to sending the student to the principal, they were usually removed. The principals were of the opinion that I had so little referrals, that when I did best to remove the student. Word gets around, when the students found that I was not afraid or too busy to call home, my )(*^&% level went way up!
I would think that the small step demos, the rubric of performance steps and constant monitoring even though tedious in the beginning would make the step toward your standards based ed easier to swallow. Think about the way you do things, if you base your classes on acquired skills, you may find that things like grading become so much easier. As far as mastery, there are degrees of that set you bar where you think the working student will succeed. Ex. 9" with 3#? or 3.5#? or 4#?
I don't have many discipline problems, and I've rarely had to call home. Sad thing is, in the cases where I do, not much gets done, because the reason they are a problem in my class, is because there is no discipline at home.
When I do call, I'm like you, I've got the facts, and stick with those, i.e. your child did this, here's what I'm going to do. My coworker, sadly goes beyond that. He tries to provide insight, as to why the students are acting in such away, filled with a lot of assumptions. I've listened to him, make quite a few of those calls, and I cringe a bit. If I were the parents, I would not appreciate the approach.
Speaking of calls, the administration tried to push us, to make calls home, when they were absent, for whatever reason. They wanted each teacher to call. This meant that if a student was gone all day, even if was excused, each teacher would call the parent/ guardian. The administration then back off on this, when it was pointed out, that it most likely would not be pleasant for either the parents or staff, to make those calls. Imagine if you were the teacher, who was the last to call home. In high school, this meant that the parents had received three other calls already. For the middle school, this meant you were the eighth.
My second school district had a similar expectation. We were supposed to sit down every Friday, and tally up the absences for each student. So we were supposed to go through and do that for ninety some students, that we had each day. Keep in mind, the school has an attendance keeping program. Why the office couldn't take care of that, I have no idea. Not that I cared too terribly. In my time there, I never once did the absence tally, not one week. I never heard a thing from the administration.
I'm not worried about the switch to standards based grading. My very first teaching job, had something along those lines, and I helped write the curriculum for it. The important thing is to keep the standards and benchmarks fairly loose, so it doesn't tie you in to a specific project. Even better, if you keep the standards and benchmarks so open, you can use them for each class, instead of having a set for a specific class.
The only problem I have with standards based grading, is when it is grouped with the whole "No zeroes" idea. I'm also not a fan of the four point scale either. In art, the assignments/ projects aren't something as simple as a homework assignment. They are time consuming, invested works. It doesn't seem fair to give the student four points, for something that took them weeks to do.