Thursday, July 17, 2014

SBG Grading

For something called Standards Based GRADING it may seem strange  that explaining the grading part isn't the first thing I talked about. For me at least, the grading part came a little bit later...first all the other stuff had to be set up.

Below is the rubric I use which I got from Jessica:

And here the simpler explanations that I have hanging on the wall:

So the kids take an assessment that's broken apart into skills. When I grade it, initially I mark things how I alway have. I'll mark things that are incorrect, put in little notes and such. I also try to give the best feedback I can. This takes some time. I try to put thought into it. Assigning points is where the change is. The points game is gone. There's no trying to decide whether the kid deserves 1/2 credit or maybe 3/4 credit. When I'm making a quiz I don't have to try to figure out whether the question should be a 1 or 2 pointer.

All I have to do is look over the entire section and determine how well the kid gets it. The more that I graded, the easier this part got. And typically when in doubt, choose the lower grade. If I'm questioning it, then it means the kid didn't completely sell me on the higher score. I don't feel bad giving them a lower score because they can always improve it.

The way I think about the grades in my head is like so:

  • 0 --> Wrote down nothing on the paper
  • 1 --> Wrote down something slightly intelligent on the paper. Totally off track and wrong, but did something. Recopying the problem or circling something doesn't count. Neither does writing "IDK".
  • 2 --> Their answer was somewhat on the right track. Definitely still wrong but the kid at least knows something.
  • 3 --> On the right track for sure. They have most of the idea down, but there's still some gap in their understanding. 
  • 3.5 --> Pretty much all correct except for something minor. I call the 3.5 me being picky.
As a rule of thumb I suggest that a 0-2 means that the kid needs my help. They have some pretty big issues going on and extra practice alone or looking in their notes probably isn't going to solve the problem. For a 3 it depends on what the issue is and for a 3.5 they most likely can fix the problem themselves with some extra practice or looking in their notebook.

The biggest jump for me is from a 2 to a 3. For me a 3 needs to show that the pretty much have the idea down but a 2 is pretty seriously misunderstanding the topic. Because of that, I'm much more likely to err on the side of caution and give them the 2 when in doubt. There is also a pretty significant point jump from a 0 to a 1 just to encourage students to try. I have issues with kids just leaving things blank and not even trying so offering them points for trying really gives them that push to write something down. And since my goal is to get an idea of what they know, them writing down something that's even totally off track is way more useful to me than a blank paper.

A 4 means pretty much perfect and the only way to get a 5 is to get two 4's. This makes for a decent amount of work because I need to make sure to reassess each skill a couple times but I like the idea behind it a lot. To really earn that 100 they not only have to show me once that they got it, but they needed to show that they retained it for at least some amount of time. Something I'm thinking about is making only the last assessment capable of bumping 4's to 5. So the only way to get the full score would be not to retain it for some amount of time, but to retain it until the end of the marking period. There could be and probably are holes in this idea..but I think it could be interesting to consider.

My school uses a traditional grading scale so I chose a conversion for each score. Using the percentages out of 5 definitely wouldn't have worked because it didn't make sense. A 3 means the kid understood it decently well but a 3/5 isn't even a passing grade. So I chose the scores that I thought made sense. This is all relative though so choose things that make sense for you. In addition, I have it set up so that a new grade will entirely replace an old grade. Also their grades in the gradebook do not go down. These are also both things that seem to differ with each person. Again it's personal so pick something that's right for you. I plan to explain later the reasons behind why I chose to do what I do.

Overall, I love this switch so much. I seriously can't say enough good things about it. Their grades actually mean something and that makes such a difference. When I hand back a quiz there's no question of "What did I get?" or "Did I fail?" because they don't get just one grade. They can't look at a score and then just throw it away. They have to look at each individual skill and can see where they stand. When I'm grading I don't get upset or frustrated anymore if everyone bombs something, I just make a point to note that they still need work in that area. My gradebook is also way more useful than it used to be. I enter each skill as a separate grade and my gradebook program displays the averages at the bottom so I can do a quick glance and easily pick out the weakest or strongest topics.


  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to write about sbg? I am intrigued but am so nervous to start the process. It seems like A LOT to keep up with. You explained your grade book above. Could you show a page of your grade book? How do you keep up with all the score for each assessment and each student?

  2. Sarah,
    I've been doing my version of sbg for a few years now and I am not loving it. The students do not reassess at all and I feel like the conversion part is so confusing. I do not feel fair or consistent in my grading. I liked having each concept separated in my grade book but then I didn't use that information in any way.

    This year I have more preps and I just don't see reassessments working for me. No time to create them or grade them or beg them to redo them. I've been thinking about test corrections as a way to earn back credit. Do you feel like sbg could work through a method like that? I'm really just wanting an opinion. I'm imagining students correcting a wrong problem, writing an explanation of how they messed up and fixed it, and then possibly them creating a problem like the original and solving it? Ok, that last step is probably too much like asking them to create reassessments for me. lol I need something they can do on their own to improve their grade that doesn't involve more work for me...that's not some random extra credit assignment. Any ideas?

    1. Elissa,

      I'm looking into this method and am glad to see you posted about having problems with it. If you don't mind, could I ask you a few questions about your situation to better gauge whether I should reconsider implementing it in my own classroom?

      You said you have more preps this year, can I ask how many classes do you teach? Are you at a large school, small school, public, private? Do you have any idea why they don't like to reassess? Are they too content with their grades or do they lack the skills to assess themselves?

      Thank you in advance!

    2. Haley,
      I have four preps, Alg I, Geometry, Algebra 2, and Trig. I teach at a tiny, rural, k-12 school. Our high school has about 130 students. My class sizes range from 10-18 and I have two sections of every class except Trig.

      I think they don't reassess because they aren't used to being able to do that. Also, they assume if they couldn't do it right the first time, they won't do any better the second. This year, I have no convenient time for students to come in and reassess.

    3. I'm sorry to hear that it's not going well :( I only really started it this year, so you definitely have more experience than I do, but this year my kids weren't really ever motivated to reassess on their own. Any time they got a quiz with new material old material was just on it too. I do know what you mean about the amount of time involved- it took a good amount of effort coming up with new questions and grading quizzes..and I only had 2 preps and 4 classes so I can imagine with more it would have been a challenge.

      One thing that I did use midyear to bring up grades without quizzing was It's something you need to pay for but my district bought the subscription. It's really just a practice program but the kids liked working on it. Maybe something like that could help?

  3. I would love to see how you convert your 0 to 5 scale into a actual grade for your grading program. That's what I've had the most trouble with in using a non-traditional scale. I like your SBG very much but I have about 100 students with three different preps and see it as being a bit overwhelming. Perhaps I'll just try it in one class this year....Love your blog BTW

    1. If you look at the rubric above in this post (the first document that's embedded) you can see the conversions on there. And in all honesty, it is overwhelming. Making up assessments, grading them and then updating scores takes a ton of time.

  4. I'd love to see how you record and keep up with grades for all these assessments as well! I tried a version of SBG last year and loved the concept but hated recording the grades. I think my method of recording was too complicated so I'd love to see yours! Thanks

    1. I don't really have too much of a system. When they improve I just go into the gradebook and change the scores. It takes a decent amount of time, but luckily I have a small number of students. I know there are programs out there that are supposed to make it easier, I haven't really looked into any of them yet though but maybe that could help?

  5. Is it possible to see what your gradebook looks like? I, like a few others, am interested in what it looks like. :)

    1. It's just my school gradebook program. Each skill is a different assessment and those are the only grades that go in. There isn't really anything fancy or complicated involved. If they improve I just go into the old grade and change it.

  6. Your SBG and your ISN have inspired me in a tremendous way this school year! I'm adding you to my list of favorite education blogs over at my own blog. You are awesome!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...