Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer Fun and an Introduction to Standards Based Grading.

This summer I decided to apply to speak at several conferences.  Since I don’t have any classroom action happening this summer, I am planning to start my blog by organizing my thoughts for these presentations.  I’ll be giving 6 presentations on 3 topics at 4 conferences.  The topics are standards based grading, hybrid learning and utilizing the MTBoS.

I’m going to start with my philosophy for using standards based grading in this first post.  There are certainly other ways to implement standards based grading; this is just how I did it.
First, standards based grading has other names.  I use objectives based grading.  I’ve also heard proficiency based grading, concepts based grading and target based grading.  They are all the same concept.  I chose objectives based grading because my state standards (PA) are very broad.  Our state broke each standard into 2-3 pieces of eligible content.  Those were still very broad.  For example, there is a standard in algebra 1 about solving equations.  I broke this into: solving one step equations, solving two-step equations, solving equations with like terms, solving equations using the distributive property, and solving equations with variables on both sides.

Whatever you call it, the goal of standards based grading is to measure a student’s mastery of essential standards.  There is a cycle of teaching, assessing, reteaching, and reassessing that continues until students have mastered concepts.  Frequent tests serve as the primary assessment, but other evidence may be considered such as projects, discussions, and classwork.

Another aim of standards based grading is to provide an accurate representation of learning  and to promote a dialogue about how a student can master material.  The big idea is that learning takes place over time.  Students are allowed to reassess to earn full credit for mastering a topic.  The mastery is more important than the timing.

Most importantly, standards based grading turns into standards based instruction.  Assessments provide feedback about what to focus on next.  I have never been so aware of my exactly what my students can and can not do.  In the past, I might have noticed that my students has trouble solving equations, but now I know that is really just in cases where distribution is involved.  This allows me to make much better lessons plans.

I’ll be posting more later.  I plan on following up with a compare/contrast of standards based grading to traditional grading, communicating with stakeholders, creating rubrics for levels of mastery, creating an objectives list, setting up your gradebook, designing instruction, creating assessments, tracking progress, designing remediation, and creating reassessments.


  1. Thank you for this nice summary...I've saved for my files. I look forward to your planned posts, especially creating an objectives list. I'm trying to put together a precalculus list but the curriculum is so broad. Trying to balance between being too broad (5-10 few standards) to too detailed (3-4 for each new unit). So many different thoughts on this!

  2. Thanks for the comment. Here is a link to where I wrote about making my objectives list. I have way more than the average SBG user. Most people stick to about 60 per year and I probably have double that. I just felt to need to keep track of different but similar objectives.