SBG Express: Details

The basic idea of standards-based grading is simple: Grade students on their understanding of specific learning goals. It's the details of that implementation that are devilish. In honor of the "publish, then filter" idea, writing this post is my way of working through (and hopefully solidifying) those details.

What standards?

I've started making a list of standards. I keep oscillating between thinking, "These standards are way too specific!" to "These standards are way too broad!" I'm taking that as a sign that they're about where I want them. This is a list in progress. As of this typing the standards cover the first several mini-units of 9th grade Integrated Science. I'm open to any insights, questions, or comments you have concerning the standards. If you missed the subtle hyperlink earlier, CLICK HERE TO VIEW STANDARDS!


When the rubber hits the road, I need a specific way to calculate a student's letter grade at any point in time. Figuring this part out is spending more mental energy than anything else. An incorrect implementation might make SBG no better than old-fashioned grades by cumulative points- and in face could be worse. I'd like to avoid that.

  1. Each standard is worth 10 points.
    • Points translate directly to % and grades, so 9.5 = 95% = A
  2. The overall grade is calculated by averaging student scores on all the standards that have been assessed.
    • Some SBG'ers don't like the averaging method since some poorly understood standards might be covered up by a few well understood standards. Conjunctive scoring would get around this (Jason Buell gives a nice overview of conjunctive scoring here), but I worry that conjunctive scoring is a bit too "out there" for administrators, teachers, or students to get behind, and furthermore I'm not sure PowerSchool (our student information system) can handle it. I've put conjunctive scoring on the "possible future enhancements" list.
  3. Students may re-assess on any standard on any day.
    • Limits:
      • 1 standard per day, per student (the Cornally Corollary)
      • Students must know what standard they want to re-assess
      • Students can get help from me or re-assess, but not both on the same day (the Nowak Limit)
  4. Mid-terms and finals are summative
    • Meaning these grades can't change with reassessment. Total value of both combined is 20% of the overall course.
  5. I'll be using the SBGradebook along with PowerSchool to record & report student progress.
    • I'm not going to lie, I'm a little worried about how much time it'll take to enter grades in twice. However, the SBGradebook looks like such an exercise in graphy-awesomeness I couldn't not use it. Plus, it should help students track their own progress more effectively.

I'm pretty sure if you've written about SBG in the past 12 months you'll see something of your system here. Hopefully you view it as flattery and not me biting your awesome ideas.

I'm pretty sure writing this post helped me more than it will help any reader. I needed to hash out several competing ideas I had floating around my head. As always, if you see something glaringly obvious that will sink this SBG ship, let me know.