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.


2 Responses to SBG: Converting to a Percentage Grade

  1. I think you bring up a few good points:
    1) In a standards-based grading system, most of us in secondary schools are still required to assign a letter grade at the end of the quarter/semester/trimester.
    2) Converting standards to a letter grade can be a challenge.

    With those points in mind, my experience indicates the standards to letter grade conversion needs to be transparently communicated to students and parents. If the system requires knowledge of weighted means and/or piecewise functions, it should be clearly spelled out. In my earlier days as a math teacher, I remember debating…should homework be worth 20% or 10% of students’ grades? (Now, I wonder…did it really matter to students? to parents?) In other words, does it take a mathematician to figure it out? If we’re trying to help students and parents get past the old ‘points game’ system and truly focus on communicating students’ current levels of learning, I think we owe it to them to make the grade book as painless as possible to understand.

    My question for you…does your proposed system pass the mathematician snuff test?

    • absolutevalueofteaching says:

      I don’t think it passes the test, but I have been really struggling to find a “good” conversion to percentages. I also have been throwing around making my learning target mastery equivalent to a 100%, a 3 equivalent to a 90%, a 2 equivalent to a 75%, and a 1 equivalent to a 60%. Our district passing grade is a 70%. Easier to explain to parents, but I don’t want them getting hung up on percentages and points.

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