Sunday, July 29, 2012

SBG Changes?

For the past two school years, I have done Standards Based Grading (SBG). I have done a 5 (6?) point scale:

I am not totally happy with the scale (I blogged about it here earlier this summer) and I got some great comments. But I'm not totally sold either. I am contemplating changes. I'm not totally certain which one(s) I am going to make, but this is what I am thinking:
1) If I keep the current scale, I think I am going to make the 0 a 0 in the gradebook (instead of 5/10). I had students who played the system and made no attempt on a skill but since it was a 50% going in the gradebook instead of a 0%, they were able to pass (when they really shouldn't have) because they did "just good enough" on enough other skills. I am thinking this may solve the problem I talked about earlier with students passing who really shouldn't have.
2) I am having second thoughts about using a 5 point scale. Our state test is on a 5 point (Limited, Basic, Proficient, Accelerated, Advanced), so staying with it wouldn't be all bad - it could correlate to that potentially. However, there are some things that appeal to me about a 4 point scale. There could be two levels of "not there yet" - students who have significant conceptual errors - and two levels of "more or less have it" - students who have the concept but have other errors not related to the concept or students who truly understand the concept. The 4 point scale may be easier for me in grading. However, I'm not sure how I would correlate it to percentages. It seems that, as I have looked at others scales, more tend to be on a 4-point scale rather than a 5-point scale (not that what everyone else is doing is going to sway me).

Anyone have some guiding thoughts to help me here? I'd like to get this issue straightened in my head sooner rather than later. We have about 4 weeks until school starts, so I guess I better figure this out...


Mr Kraft said...

I want to start SBG this fall and I have been wrestling with this very issue over the past couple of weeks.
Marzano has some interesting work on this (Classroom Assessment & Grading that Work) and he uses a 4 point scale with the possibility of 0.5 intervals.
Near the end of the book, he addresses the process of assigning letter grades (something he suggests schools should abolish, but acknowledges that the system isn't changing anytime soon). He gives the following scale:
3.00-4.00 - A
2.50-2.99 - B
2.00-2.49 - C
1.50-1.99 - D
below 1.50 - F
He admits that the definition of grades is somewhat arbitrary.

Since I need to convert these scores to percents anyway, I've been wondering if I should just bypass the whole 0-4 point scale, and just have 100% mean "exceeds what was taught in class", 90% mean "meets expectations", 80% mean "meets expectations with minor errors", etc. The simpler the system, the better for my students.

Math Teacher said...

Having no experience with SBG (yet) my advice may not be so sound, however, the scale that rang the most true for me was 4pt.

0 - No Record (F)
1 - Needs Development (F)
2 - Approaching Proficiency (D)
3 - Proficient (B)
4 - Master (A)

I also deem a 3.5 (A) to be Approaching Mastery where students make minor mistakes and it would correspond to 90% rather than 100%.

At first I was uncomfortable with not having a C in my scale, however when it comes to performing a mathematical task, do we need to be average? Either we are able to demonstrate it or we are not. When it shakes down into quarter grades I am going to end up averaging (which I've read isn't the best, but I'm taking baby steps) with a scale similar to college grades:

4.0 - 100%
3.5 - 90%
3.0 - 80%
2.5 - 70%
2.0 - 60%
<2.0 - Fail

My school's passing grade is a 60% which may not be true at yours and thus your scale may have to adjust. I'm hopeful that this will work out for me and hopeful that you find something that works for you!

Anonymous said...


I'm thinking of using a 5-pt scale this year too (not having tried anything like this before). I like your descriptions of what the numbers mean - here's how I was going to translate them to a grade:

0 - 0%
1 - 35%
2 - 55%
3 - 70%
4 - 85%
5 - 100%

My rational behind all of this is: what grade do I want to give a student who has mostly 1's and 2's? Mostly 2's and 3's? Mostly 3's and 4's? Mostly 4's and 5's?

The 1 and 2 student is not proficient most of the skills in this course - they don't deserve to pass. 35% and 55% will always average to a failing grade. Also, there is no ambiguity about what the next step is - their grade will always be low enough that they NEED to relearn and reassess.

The 2's and 3's kid will be on the cusp - if there are a few skills he/she is weak on, it won't be enough to cause them to fail, but they'll need to be stellar in other skills in order to offset the 55%. I'm okay with this. If they really are a 2-3 student, they'll be right on the cusp of passing and will constantly.

A 3-4's kid is a B/C student, and a 4-5's kid is a A/B student. If they have more 5's than 4's, their grade will average to an A, which I'm okay with. If it's more 4's than 5's, it'll average to a B. If they have mostly 4's, some 5's, and some 2's, then it'll average to a B or maybe a high C. All of these are things I'm okay with.

Anyway - that's how I think about translating SBG into grades. At the end of everything, I want students earning at least a 3 on assessments, so I better make sure my grading scale almost forces them to do that.

Patti said...

At my district, we do the Marzano thing. The difficult part to remember is that a "3" isn't a "B" on the 1-4 scale. A "3" means proficient. Beyond that is a student who knows more than they are supposed to for that grade or course. That makes tons of sense until you have to convert it to a typical grade, where kids and parents want to see all A's, which are typically weighted as 4s.

We do have the opportunity to use 3.5, 2.5, etc., and the rubric for grading each standard includes those. But, they didn't do a rubric for every standard, just the "core" or "power" standards that get put on the report cards.

The other thing that takes a lot of getting used to is scoring at the beginning of the year. It's maybe not such a big deal in secondary, but elementary teachers are used to grading based on what the expectation is now. With the scale system they've been asked to grade against the end-of-the-year expectation. So, a straight-A student might start the year with a 1.5 on some standard because they are just learning it or it hasn't been covered yet. Parents are taking time to adjust to this, and some teachers can't bring themselves to do it, which skews things for everyone.

No solutions to your questions, just telling you what we do.

stephanie231333 said...

I like that 5 break down. I have never done SBG before, but I really want to. Have you ever had any parents complain about the "I think you don't know it part" How do you back yourself if someone does have a concern?

Lisa said...

Stephanie - I have never had a parent complain. Students have the opportunity to come in and reassess until the end of the grading period. Once I explain that to parents, they usually get on their kid's case to get in and reassess.