Types of SBG – using Marzano’s Format

Before I post any examples of my work on this site, I think it’s important to point out that I am using a format similar to Robert Marzano’s example in his book, “Classroom Assessment & Grading that Work”. After reading the book, I really bought into the idea of using rubrics (as opposed to points) to assess topics. He suggests setting up assessments with varying difficulty (or depths of knowledge). Section 1 is typically recall/simple concepts taught in class. Section 2 is the more complex concepts taught in class. And section 3 should be novel problems, typically requiring application of what was taught. Or as my friend Grant Wiggins has asked, what do you ultimately want the student to do with the content?

This type of assessment has its advantages and disadvantages. The best part is that I can fairly easily use a rubric to determine a score. If the assessment is structured correctly, a student won’t be able to do section 3 if he/she can’t do section 2. Or he/she can’t do section 2 if he/she can’t do section 1.

The disadvantage is that sometimes students do well on the more difficult material, and make mistakes on the easier material. Translating this into a score gets tricky. Marzano suggests that oddities should be resolved by interviewing students, which I think is a great idea, but is not always realistic. Another part of the problem is that I am just figuring out how to structure these assessments. They are not perfect and require constructive criticism. That is why I love the idea of using this site to get feedback from others.

In the future I will be posting study guides that I use to prepare students for an assessment. These study guides are similar to quizzes that I give in class. I won’t be posting any actual quizzes since I know how sophisticated some of my own students are. Any quiz I post would be found, duplicated, and shared the morning of the quiz.

Nathan Kraft


Andrew Stadel’s Farewell Letter to Points

Andrew Stadel has written a very touching, almost eye-watering farewell to points in his classroom.  Who am I kidding?  We both aren’t sad to see points exit our assessment systems, but the metaphor is great.  It is a must read, even for those who are committed to keeping their extra credit assignments (for points of course).  Read his post here: Hey points, meet my new friend SBG

Student Tracking Sheet for SBG Learning Targets

Here is the checklist I created for students to keep track of their learning targets:

Learning target checklist

While I created it in Pages, the idea was stolen from Dan Meyer and others.  The circles are for “stop-lighting” their progress on the learning targets.

  • Bottom Circle — Red — Need major work to show proficiency
  • Middle Circle — Yellow — Need minor work to show proficiency
  • Greed Circle — Green — You got it!
  • Square — Stamp or sticker — This is to track mastery after they have repeatedly showed proficiency on the learning target

Of course, on the learning target quiz, I assign a color and give feedback for each learning target.  I would love to know what you think about this approach.

I Heart SBG

I didn’t start this page (Chris Robinson did), but it would appear that I’m the first contributor. I believe the purpose of this site is for math teachers (and possibly others) to share their experiences with SBG and possibly critique each others’ efforts. As I love pointing out what’s wrong with something (according to my wife), I couldn’t resist joining. I also just started SBG this year and I’m feeling like a bit of a noob. I need my wonderful colleagues to provide some constructive criticism as well.

Eventually I will get into the nuts and bolts of how I’m doing SBG. I’ve been helped my many including Shawn Cornally, Fawn Nguyen, Andrew Stadel, and Dan Meyer. Although it’s early in the school year, I’m already in love with it. I’ve gone from mostly summative assessment to mostly formative assessment. Every assessment is an opportunity to fix things. I’m not freaking out any more when somebody fails miserably. I can help them out and give them another try. The students aren’t asking me what their letter grade is, but reading all of the feedback so they know what mistakes they’ve made. How could you not love SBG?

Going back to traditional grading would be painful.

Nathan Kraft

SBG: Converting to a Percentage Grade

Like most of us, my district requires that we assign a grade at the end of each quarter. Not just a letter grade, but a percentage.  Before I started using a standards-based assessment system, my quarterly percentage would be a mix of homework, quizzes, tests, classwork, etc.  Not very indicative of what a student learned, but boy did it measure how well a student “played school.” This year, I have come up with this conversion for my required percentage grade:

  • 90% of the quarter grade comes from being proficient on my core learning targets (proficient learning targets/total learning targets)
  • 5% of the quarter grade comes from mastering the core learning targets (mastered learning targets/total learning targets)
  • 5% of the quarter grade comes from being proficient with my “synthesis” learning targets (same calculation)

A student can demonstrate proficiency with a core learning target on a weekly quiz, in a conversation with myself, or various other ways that could be classified as “formative assessment.”  Students demonstrate mastery on core learning targets when they repeatedly are successful on multiple types of assessments, both formative and summative.  Finally, students will also encounter “synthesis” learning targets.  These are multiple core learning targets all rolled up into one non-routine, complex problem.  I included these to assess students’ abilities to apply their knowledge of how the core learning targets go together.

While I am still convinced that this isn’t a perfect system, I am excited to see how it plays out this school year.  Alright, I’m open and ready for critiques.

Standards-Based Grading: A Collabrative Effort

After entering my second year of standards-based grading and coming into contact with some great minds through Twitter and the edublogosphere, I thought it would be a great idea to set up a place where we can share and critique all aspects of our standards-based assessment systems. This site will be open to contributors as well as the general readership for comments. I’ve found that most aspects of teaching can be greatly improved when collaboration takes place. And who doesn’t like some constructive feedback, right?

Contributors will be able to post about standards-based assessment in general, and will also be able to upload certain file types (i.e. PDF, doc, etc.) to share their specific standards-based creations.  This will be a work in progress, but the ball has to get rolling before it can pick up its steam.  I look forward to seeing some interesting and innovative ideas to make our assessment practices useful to both our students and ourselves.  As Nathan put it, I heart SBG.