Monday, August 24, 2015

SBG - Putting it in Action

In 2014, I posted my first post on Standards Based Grading. I had done my research and wanted to make things work within the confines I felt I had at the time and, while it worked, and my students and parents were happy, I still felt like I wasn't fully committing to SBG. This year, Rachel, I and our colleagues have made the decision to use SBG fully, along with untextbooking. So, here is our update.

After doing my research (shared at the end of the post), I took a look at some examples of how it was being done. The issue I ran into is that we are required to use a certain percentage spread in our gradebooks. So, I got a little creative. I knew I wanted to incorporate our county standards as well as some national standards. So, what I came up with was this:

  1. Final Exam - remains the same; most counties dictate this anyways, so I did nothing to it. In the gradebook it will read "final exam".
  2. Summative Assessments - county/state standards; these are the things that we have to justify if someone were to ask what we were teaching. We don't teach a textbook; we are held to the standards. Most of the time your school will have these ready for you on paper or online. If your county doesn't have them, you might look at state standards. 
  3. Formative Assessments - commonly called "classwork"; ACTFL can do statements; I have really been pushing myself towards using the standards more often. I want kids to have useful tools for evaluating themselves and I want my evaluations to mean something. 
When I presented it to my colleagues, we were all in agreement that this would work as long as each grade counted just enough to make a difference. Nothing gets to kids more than working hard on an assignment and not having it count at all in the final grade. When we broke it down, the standards came out to Summative Assessments being about 4% each and Formative Assessments being about 3%. This is just enough to count and make a difference. 

Tracking Tools
We all have different ways of tracking kids progress, but we all agreed to record our grades and notes into a program called Active Grade. Here's a good analysis of Active Grade. We settled on Active Grade because it let us put in actual assignment grades, but grade standards within the assignment. We also liked it because it allows students to see their progress. It is completely customisable to your grading preferences and I've found it easy to move between classes, transfer students, and enter grades.

In addition to this, we all have our own methods of tracking kids in the moment. So far I've discovered that using SBG makes grading a lot easier, even though I may be assessing more than one standard:
  • I can easily use Active Grade and assign some high flyers a single assignment and give them a grade for moving ahead without penalising others.
  • I can quickly make marks in a notebook on student comprehension and activity and quickly translate that to the Active Grade gradebook.
  • I can separate tests into the standards they work with. Students, parents, and myself are all clearly aware of what skill eat item tests. If I do it before giving the test, grading is simplified as well.
  • Students can come in for very specific help, knowing exactly which skill they need help with. I can easily track that if I wish as well.
On Monday, we are going to have our first check in meeting where we'll see how we are all doing with Standards Based Grading. So far, I've gotten good feedback from the kids which I'll share in my next post on this. There are, however, a few things we're going to try and address over these next few weeks. My next post will not only be an update on how things are going, but about the problems we've come up with and how we've addressed them. My question to you all is this: Would you try SBG? Why not? What's your biggest concern about SBG?

Research Links and Resources