SBG – reflections, thoughts and questions

Full disclosure – this is a long post (even though I rewrote it to try to make it shorter!)  Much of it is me thinking out loud with some questions/thoughts at the end.

Standards Based Grading as its looked for me so far….

  • Year 1 – Used in my Algebra 1 class.  The learning targets were pretty good but could have been more specific.  Averaging grades was a pain – used a spreadsheet but not perfect.  Students rarely did review and reassessment work.  I struggled with how or whether to count classwork.
  • Year 2 – Used again in my Algebra 1 class.  Learning targets were more specific.  Spreadsheet was easier to use but overall grading was harder to figure out with our school wide gradebook package.  We used a department created grading scale to match the 1 – 4 with our 0 – 100 scale on the report cards.  Had no D grade – only A, B, C and I (Incomplete)  Students were a little better with review and reassessment.  Classwork was still a struggle.
  • Year 3 – In Algebra 2 class this past year.  Learning targets started out clearer and we refined as we went along.  Spreadsheet had a nice report for students but still have to be printed individually.  Added the D back into the grading scale to help parents understand better.  Review and Reassessments started to take off but still not super.  Classwork was added in as a learning target but only 1 of 40 targets so it didn’t have a huge impact.

What I LOVE about it…grade

  • I know (and the students know) exactly which skills or concepts they understand and which they don’t.
  • Students feel that they have some control over their grade (they always did but this seems to make that very clear.)
  • Students can review and reassess!  I was one of those students that didn’t always “get” it right away.  I would have loved this opportunity.

What I DON’T LOVE so much…

  • Motivation to do practice and classwork isn’t always where it should be.
  • Our computer gradebook program doesn’t really support it (although our new LMS does support it to a degree.)
  • Parents aren’t always clear about what’s going on.  They are used to traditional grades and don’t always understand these.

Here are my questions……..(warning – some of this is the thinking out loud piece)

  • Should I expand this to my Honors level (pre-AP) classes?

successI actually said NEVER when we first started using SBG but I think my focus was on the reassessment and I thought my kids would take advantage of that.  They just wouldn’t study and expect a retake. These kids tend to be very grade focused.   It felt like using SBG here would be lowering my standards rather than raising them. I didn’t really think about the fact that I can customize the learning targets to level of the course.  I also didn’t fully appreciate how valuable it would be for both my students and myself to be able to determine exactly what they understand and are able to do and how this might make them more learning focused than grade focused.

  • What grading scale should I use if I use this with my Honors kids?

We’ve been using one where we “adapted” the 1 – 4 into 0 – 100.  A (3.5 and above)  = 87.5;  B (3 -3.49) = 75; C (2.7 – 2.99) = 67.5;  D (2.5 – 2.69) = 62.5.  For other courses we use a 9/10 pt scale (91 – 100 etc.)The issue that I’m personally having with this is that the standard is lower for A – C but then higher for the D.  I feel like parts of this would appeal to parents/students but then I’d get push back from the kid with the 61.  It makes it confusing for parents to understand why an A in my course is an 87.5 while an A in every other course is a 90.

  • And speaking of parents, what might I expect there?

My parents this year were fine because they had been through 2 years of this already. These parents haven’t had much if any experience with this method of grading.  I would hope they would like how specific this is with regards to exactly what their child understands and is able to do but I also think the grading scale piece would be confusing to them. How can I get them to see the positives and calm their fears?

  • Anyone else out there using SBG with pre-AP kids in a school that’s NOT all SBG?  

Suggestions?  What road blocks did you run into?  Might there be a way to use SBG that’s less intimidating to parents/students and would help them bridge the gap between what they are used to (traditional grading) and this new method?

So there it is… If you made it this far, thanks so much for reading!  Believe it or not this is shorter than the original!  I’d love to hear thoughts and suggestions.



    • Terry on August 12, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    What are your Algebra 2 learning targets?

      • lbburke on August 17, 2015 at 12:02 am

      Hi Terry
      I need to “neaten” them up a bit but would be happy to share the google doc with you. Just a warning – I’m in VA and we’re not a common core state so mine are based off of our state standards.

        • Terry on August 17, 2015 at 2:02 pm

        Thanks – I would appreciate that! I have developed my list but would like to just compare it to yours to see how you broke things down. Since this is my first year doing the SBG I’m not confident that I have the right ones.

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