SBG: Why I Switched


Before Standards Based Grading… I was miserable (maybe not miserable…) as I was teaching Algebra chapter by chapter with a test at the end of each unit.  I saw kids have a fine grade all quarter, and then a test come up and their grade drop.  I saw kids who did poorly on one test, and it affected their grade all quarter, semester, year…  I saw kids be so stressed going into a test.  I saw kids who could learn the material for the test, and then lose it a week later.  These tests were also long… I teach squirrelly 7th and 8th graders… They also took me forever to grade, which meant I wasn’t getting quick information from these assessments.  The grade was arbitrary based on a set of topics, and unless I really analyzed each test, I couldn’t tell you what they knew- just the grade on the entire “chapter” not a specific objective.  My PLC was doing a really intensive Mastery program and I just couldn’t handle the paperwork for me as well as for the kids.  It was impressive, but just not something I could get on board with. I was seeing kids get behind and never able to catch up because they had so much work they were doing.  It seemed like a vicious cycle.

Then I started thinking… I started to remember my amazing professors talking about how a grade in  a class is supposed to show what the students know.  My kids grades didn’t show what they know, it showed what they knew.  It showed what they knew that one time, and then how much homework they did to bring it up.  It showed what they knew when the test happened.  I was conflicted.  I started doing these 5 question quizzes every day on review topics, recording the grades, and replacing the grades.  The kids liked it and I liked it.  I just wasn’t sure how I could scale it for the whole year.

Then I started stalking found Dan Meyer and developed a huge crush Are you single?  and all of a sudden I knew what I wanted my classroom to look like. Through sending my PLC a ton of links to Standards Based Grading sites, I talked them into it.  I was always going to do it, but I am a big picture person. I like ideas, but sometimes I need help with the details.

Now I do a Standards Based Grading approach with my 7th & 8th graders for my Honors Algebra 1 course.

Originally posted: March 10th: Math Class Grading Policies


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19 Responses to SBG: Why I Switched

  1. Pingback: Math Class Grading Policies | I Speak Math

  2. Marisa says:

    Hey! Loved your blog! Does your rubric of (0-5) change at all for different assignments? Can you give me the break down of what you expect from the numbers in between? Thanks!! I’m really wanted to shift to SBG next year, but don’t think my team will be on board, so I’m trying to become an expert before then!! 🙂

    • Andy Burton says:

      For the most part, no. It’s fairly gauge to make it work for everything. Occasionally (but rarely), there will be 5 questions for the concept and they get one point for each. I’ll do a follow up post with my basic materials and explanation of rubric!

  3. I love this idea and I would love to follow in your footsteps (ok..steal your idea) I am just wondering how to set up Concept #’s (current objectives) and Concept letters (previous objectives)? That is so cool that your students can articulate what they don’t know. I have taught 8th-12th grades (pre-Algebra to Calculus) and all students have a difficult time stating (maybe even knowing) where they got “stuck”. I can see where your concept #’s and letters # would be helpful.
    Thanks for posting.
    I am new to this “forum” , have never blogged etc., but I am LOVING reading everyone else’s blogs. As soon as I feel I have something to offer I will, but right now I am in awe of all of you.

    • Andy Burton says:

      Glad you love it! It has been life changing and I am hoping to adapt it next year in my Pre-Algebra class, but I am hesitant to have too many things going on for me. I am fortunate to work with 2 other teachers who got on board and were extremely helpful in creating this. I’m working on a follow up post with details!

  4. I have thought about venturing in to SBG for a while, but haven’t made the leap! You make it sound so easy. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be sure to come back to your post when i start planning for next school year. BTW, I love that you have a crush on Dan Meyer. He’ll be at a conference in TX this year and I’m considering going only because I want to see/hear him speak! Also, I’d love to see your classroom website!:)

    • Andy Burton says:

      Working on a follow up post with more details. I’ll be sure to tell the struggles too!

      Huge crush on Dan Meyer… Maybe he will find me??? The number of youtube videos I have watched of him speaking is just on the verge of nuts. I justify because I respect him so much. I just really think we could be happy together…

  5. Ken O'Connor says:

    Congrats, you are moving in the right direction, especially your emphasis on the more recent evidence, but please eliminate the grade for homework completion and make sure that your students’ grades are derived entirely from summative assessments.

    • Andy Burton says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I feel that considering my students are middle schoolers, having homework count for (only) 10% is fine.

      • Ken O'Connor says:

        I do not see why your students being middle schoolers justifies including homework completion. Your students understand in band and basketball that practice counts to help them perform well in concerts and games but it is not part of the performance evaluation/score – they need to have the same understanding in the classroom.

      • A Burton says:

        It took me awhile to come up with my response! I had thought with my middle schoolers I needed a way to hold them accountable for their homework, not only to push them to do it, but because they are so used to homework being checked.
        As it turned out, perhaps because they got so used to how I rarely checked homework, those who did their homework did better than those who didn’t. So they were hurting themselves, I didn’t need to additionally hurt them with their homework grade. After the 1st Quarter I stopped counting homework because it ended up being a fluff grade.
        I’d still like to track their homework, but not attach it to their grade.
        Thanks for their feedback! You got me thinking about my rationale/justification.

      • Ken O'Connor says:

        Thanks for sharing your journey. I agree that it is necessary to track homework but not include it in the grade. Tracking homework provides potentially important talking points for discussion students who are not achieving well.

  6. Pingback: SBG: My Definition | some become pearls

  7. Pingback: SBG: My Definition | some become pearls

  8. Pingback: SBG: The Benefits | some become pearls

  9. Pingback: SBG: The Concepts | some become pearls

  10. Royce says:

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  11. fantastc submit, very informative. I ponder why the orher specialists of this sector don’t realize this.
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