Standards Based Grading–the best of 2012

I’ve previously written about SBG (Standards Based Grading in a Percentage Based WorldPowToon Presents Standards Based Grading, and Educating Parents about Standards Based Grading). It’s been my highlight of 2012 because I’m going solo with SBG in our building. In fact only one other teacher in our district is doing it. Our online grade book is point based and doesn’t support it. Parents and students are new to it. So why am I doing this?

I doing it because I truly want a reporting system that assesses specific standards based on a level of proficiency. That means not overly tainting the grade with behaviors such homework completion or extra credit.

Here’s my scale:

  • 4.0 exceeds the target. I know (can do) it well enough to make connections that weren’t taught.
  • 3.0 meets the target. I know (can do) everything that was taught without making mistakes.
  • 2.0 does not yet meet the target. I know (can do) all the easy parts, but I don’t know (can do) the harder parts.

Here’s my conversion when it comes time to report a grade:

  • 4.0 =100%
  • 3.5 = 95%
  • 3.0 = 90%
  • 2.5 = 80%
  • 2.0 = 70%
  • 1.5 = 60%
  • 1.0 = 50%

My grade book has three categories weighted as follows:

  • 95% Summative
  • 5% Practice (homework)
  • 0% Formative

The assessments are targeted by specific standards with problems grouped by level of difficulty. Here’s an assessment for 7G4 Circumference and Area where you can see how the problems are leveled.

Students had done a LOT of practice prior to this assessment. Even though “formative” is in the title, I ended up making it a summative because the vast majority of students met the target. A handful of kids need to arrange for an out of class assessment because they didn’t earn at least a three.

Here’s what it looks like in the grade book:


When I decide to report an official grade I create a summative assignment worth 10 points and convert the scale to a percent equivalent. Working with this point based grade book has been a bit of a challenge. The software thinks a score 3 out of 4 is 75%. It’s not; it’s a level of proficiency. It took parents and students several weeks to wrap their heads around that. Eventually they learned to ignore any grade (except the summative) and interpret numbers on a scale towards mastery rather than as a percentage.

I don’t want the above example to give you the impression that I only assess once. Here’s an example of where I assessed a standard three times over the course of a month.


Those of you familiar with E-school know it’s a student information management system with a mediocre grade book. I have to make due.

It has taken some time, but parents and students have learned to view the formatives not as a grade, but as information regarding how a student is progressing towards mastery.

On a related, but different note, next week our students will be taking winter MAPs. I’ll be interested in seeing how the kids do on the geometry portion of the assessment. This is our first year with the Common Core and my sixth grade standard and academic classes were living and breathing geometry for more than a quarter. When I get the results, I’ll post a summary and some thoughts.


4 thoughts on “Standards Based Grading–the best of 2012

  1. I was the first teacher in my school to move to sbg three years ago. Now most of the math dept is using sbg and a few humanities teachers.

    1. What growing pains did you experience? I’m curious about the parents and colleagues initial reaction and how you dealt with it. If you have a moment, please fill me in.

  2. My entire middle school is trying to move toward a skill-based assessment. We were having difficulty deciding on how to do content standards, so we have decided to non-content learning skill such as shows persistance with difficult material, proficient Internet search skills, active listening, ability to use constructive criticism, etc. We have a list of about 30 we want to cut down to 20. We hope to tackle content in the next few years, depending on what our state DOE decides about Common Core. I will be interested to follow your standards-based journey.

    1. I’ve been giving some serious thought to extending the meaning of standard to include the 8 mathematical practices. We typically associate standard with learning/curricular/Common Core, but a standard can mean more than that. After all, if the practices are what we truly value why not assess what we value. You and your school seem to be doing that and I commend you.

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