Monday, July 31, 2017

SBG Updates- Assessment Question Design

Overall the way I'm using standards based grading hasn't changed all that much but I have made some changes to things that I'm pretty pleased with. The main things that have changed are the way I design assessment questions and last summer I changed the ways that I organize the skill quizzes. Both have helped me quite a bit. Right now I'll explain the question design, more on the organization later.

Like much else, this idea wasn't my own. For all I know this could be how everyone else is already writing quizzes and I was just out of the loop. A coworker and I attended an NCTM workshop a couple years ago and went to a session on SBG. It was a great one because it was a district that uses it district wide and were explaining their system. A decent amount was similar to what we were already doing but they had a really great system for how they design assessments. (I wish I could credit who this came from but it was nearly 3 years ago at this point and I just have no idea)

Before, I don't think there was any rhyme or reason to what questions I included. I tried to cover a variety of different aspects of the skill and would then grade based on what I saw.

The suggestion was to create each skill with questions of increasing difficulty to make it easier to determine what the student does/does not understand. Each skill contains five questions ranging from the absolute basics needed for the skill to a challenge question that requires the student to apply the skill to something not explicitly covered in class. And what I found most helpful was that they said they begin by writing the middle question. So for each skill they think about what does basic proficiency looks likes and make that the middle question. Then from there it's easier to scale the skill up and down. I don't always stick to exactly five questions, but the idea did help me to write quizzes easier.

This one is a good example of what it looks like on one of my assessments:

First questions is on there to see if the student understands the idea of distance. If this question is not correct, then I know right away what the problem is and where to start. The third question is the basics of what I want them to be able to do. The fourth puts words in to see if they get scared. If they can do the 3rd but not the 4th I know the words threw them.

I wish I could say that all followed this structure as well, but they just don't. I already had most of the assessments done when I heard this idea so I've been updating things since then. Like the ones below, some have fewer questions but follow the same idea.

The challenge question here presents more of an idea and less of a problem/answer type question.

This one also uses error analysis as the challenge question, I've noticed that
sometimes that type of thinking is hard for my kids so I like to work on it.
Template Download (fonts are Aldine401 BT, Bebas Neue, Abel, Segoe UI Light)
This is just from Microsoft Word using a table. Included are 6 boxes, that is the general starting point but from there I'll merge boxes, hide borders, and/or play with the box heights to create the different layouts like I've got above


  1. How did you create your template for the assessment? I am wanting to try out this style this coming year and this template is the best I have seen so far.

    1. It's just a Microsoft word table. I added a link above to a general template that you can use as a starting point.

  2. This makes so much sense...why didn't they teach us this in college? Or anything about assessment at all? lol There's no way I can do this for all 4-5 of my preps but it's definitely something to think about and work on over the years. Thank you for sharing it!

    1. Haha, I agree. I don't feel like I learned anything in college education classes that I ever really use all that much.

  3. I really like this layout for assessing student understanding of skills. About how many skills do you have per unit? Would you be willing to share your skill list for each unit? I teach Algebra and Geometry, and this year I'm working towards standards (skill) based grading.


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