Saturday, August 23, 2014

SBG Mastery

Numerous people have asked lately why there isn't an arrow directly from quizzing to mastery on my SBG bulletin board. The reason for this is just because of how I'm using SBG in my classroom with reassessing. The way I worked it for the past year and a half has been that a student needs to score a 4 twice to get to a 5. This is the only way they can move to a 5- I describe it that they need to prove they know it and then they need to prove that they remember it after some time. The part that has kind of been bothering me though is the "after some time" part. There's no set amount of time that they need to remember it for. Depending on when the kid gets their first 4, the next reassessment could be in a few days or in a couple weeks. And then what if they forget it after then?

I'll usually give a reassessment at the end of the marking period on everything we've worked on. It's a fairly long reassessment that everyone takes to give them one last chance to bring up anything they've been working on. Since scores can't move down a kid down, a kid that got a 5 weeks ago doesn't need to do the topics they've already mastered. 

So something I'm thinking about is changing up the 5 policy a bit. I'm thinking that two 4's will still raise them to a 5, but the only skill quiz eligible for 5's will be the last one. This way, it gets rid of the "after some time" part. Any kid that ends up with a 5 demonstrated that they learned the skill and remembered it until the end of the marking period, not just a week or so. I think it might encourage kids to brush up on all their skills at the end of each marking period, hopefully increasing their retention a bit.

I worry though that it might be a bit overwhelming to have to review every single topic instead of letting them just focus in on their areas of weakness, but I feel like if they're already scored a 4 then the review process should be much shorter- maybe just a problem or two to refresh their memory.

So I'm curious to know if anyone has tried anything like this or has any thoughts that maybe haven't crossed my mind?


  1. Here's a question I have, and something I'm trying to figure out for my classroom. What if a student had a five on a skill, but a few weeks later they score a 3 on the same concept? Does their mastery score drop back down to a 3? I'm interested to know you're thoughts.

  2. I really like this idea. One of the things I struggle with with SBG is the retention aspect.

  3. In my class, to get the highest grade (my system is 1 to 4), the student must have mastered the grade level expectation and complete work and test questions on higher level skills or that skill with a greater degree of complexity. I also retest at the end of the marking period to foster retention. One problem is that sometimes the end of marking period test is a retest of a previous unit, but the first test for the unit I am trying to finish up at the end of the marking period.

  4. Thank you for your wonderful series on SBG, how I can use it effectively in my Family and Consumer Sciences classes is becoming more clear to me now. I'm also loving ISNs in my Fashion Construction classes, so glad I found your blog!

  5. Thanks for the post. I too use two 4's to get a 5, but not only did this cause the issues you mention in this blog, but I also find the concept of "mastery" problematic. When my students mastered a topic they move on. But every student needs a refresher on every topic once in a while. Here is my solution for this year (proposed by my colleague):

    The mastery system remains unchanged, but we implement spiral quizzes from time to time. These "spiral quizzes" will incorporate different clusters of material from any time in the year. Students then use their records of mastery to figure out which topics they need to study. So maybe you have mastered multiplication and division in scientific notation and only need to review 1 or 2 problems. Meanwhile you are struggling with the laws of exponents. I would let them know which topics might be on the spiral quiz and they can use their data accordingly.

    1. How do you work your spiral quizzes with your grade book? We are set up in marking periods so if I quizzed on a skill from a previous marking period I wouldn't be able to go back and change any grades. That's why I was thinking end of marking period assessments on everything.

    2. I use a similar "spiraling" method, but am unsure about very tiny checkups--so if they miss the 1 or 2 problems on a standard, does their grade go down? Can we really determine mastery from only 1 or 2 problems? What I do (well, what I will be trying this year) is to give a full assessment on a standard each time (they're quizzes with 5-10 questions). So they see a standard at the end of the week they learned the material, then they see it again 2-3 weeks later, then within the last month of school (ideally...).

      The other idea I had, in trying to "cover" an entire standard, is to require two 4's on different *kinds* of assignments. In your case, perhaps your student has to get a 4 on a lab and on a quiz in order to get a 5 and show mastery. If a student didn't do well on either, they have to go back and work on it, which (perhaps) spaces it out nicely.

  6. Sarah,

    Love your blog and have borrowed many ideas. Any chance you could email me the handout you use for the interactive notebooks that have figuring rate of change from a table/scenario (auto repair)/graph?

    Hope you have a great school year,



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