I’ve been piloting a standards-based grading system in my Advanced Chemistry course this year. Here’s an overview of what my system looks like now.*
At the beginning of each unit, I provide students with a list of topics:
The bold items represent the main content topics in the unit. Students are generally assessed on 1-4 of the subtopics at a time.
I use quizzes as my primary form of teacher-initiated assessment.
I give two quizzes for select subtopics, and students may initiate a reassessment after the second attempt. Students are evaluated on a 1-4 scale for each topic (adapted from Marzano’s Classroom Assessment and Grading that Works):
|4.0||You can demonstrate a complete understanding of simple and complex topics introduced in class. You can also apply knowledge to situations not explicitly mentioned in class|
|3.0||You can demonstrate a complete understanding of simple and complex topics introduced in class.|
|2.0||You can demonstrate a complete understanding of simple topics, but are prone to conceptual errors or omissions on more complex topics.|
|1.0||You can only demonstrate understanding of simple topics with assistance.|
|0.0||No attempt is made to demonstrate your understanding.|
I allow half-steps (3.5, 2.5, etc.) for non-conceptual errors (algebra/ calculator fail)
Each lab addresses a particular set of lab skills and 1-2 content subtopics. Most informal labs are carbonless copies of lab data and planning, and a few post-lab questions. About 3-4 times a semester, students complete a partial or full formal lab report for a student-designed experiment.
Students can track lab skills on a Google Spreadsheet
Student-initiated reassessments have generally taken the form of problems. For certain topics, it made more sense to simply have a conversation with students about it (such as the nature of energy), or some combination of both. Though a teacher-initiated assessment might include a few related topics, students can only reassess one subtopic at a time (with few exceptions), once per day.
Towards the end of each quarter, students take a quarter exam. This includes all topics from that quarter, plus some cumulative skills from previous quarters. The goal of this exam is to measure student retention of a range of topics. The dates for these exams were scheduled and announced at the beginning of the year, and therefore don’t necessarily correspond to the end of any particular unit. This counts for 10% of the quarter grade that appears on report cards.
I keep track of scheduled reassessments using Remember the Milk‘s iPhone app.
In first quarter, I experimented with three different gradebook systems. I started with EasyGradePro, which had a decent teacher interface for standards-based grading, but was clunky. Student-reporting options were limited and not SBG friendly. I abandoned EGP in favor of a Google Spreadsheet similar to Frank Noschese. Finally, I switched to SnapGrades. With a paid account ($29.95/yr), I can email progress reports to all students weekly and to individual students after each reassessment with a personalized note.
The weekly reports contain all topics covered up to that point in the semester, and might look like this:
I currently use a combination of Google Spreadsheets and Snapgrades. I encourage students to track their own scores via a spreadsheet template.
Oh yeah, about that…
Ultimately, we can only have two grades at the end of the quarter. One academic grade (A-B-C-D-F), and one participation grade (Outstanding-Good-Satisfactory-Needs Improvement). In determining academic (letter) grades, there are minimum requirements for each letter grade.
|A||4.0 on 1/3 of content topics, no score lower than 3.0|
|B||3.0 on 1/3 of content topics, no score lower than 2.5|
|C||3.0 on at least 2 topics, no score lower than 2.0|
|D||No score lower than 1.5|
|F||Any score of 1.0 or lower.|
As students are able to reassess all topics throughout the semester, the semester grade is generally the same as the quarter 2 grade (rather than an average). A new semester means a new set of topics, and the scientific abilities scores are reset.
In my next few SBG posts, I’ll share what parts of this system have worked well, what hasn’t worked so well, and what changes I hope to make for my second year of standards-based grading.