Saturday, May 13, 2017

Standards Based Grading

Today I want to share with you how I do standards based grading. I'm sure it is different from what other people do as everyone decides what works best for them. When I first started reading blogs and getting connected on twitter I realized pretty quickly that standards based grading was the new way of grading. 

What really hooked me was the idea of being able to see in detail what my students understand. Before SBG I knew they had a grade but I couldn't tell you one bit what they really understood because their grades reflected a mixture of topics at that time along with effort and participation grades. In my opinion the traditional grading style to me has way too much fluff type grades. For example, giving grades for completing an interactive notebook. Now don't get me wrong because I used to do this myself. But does a student's organizational skills or dedication to note taking really show what they have mastered in your class??? I hope you would say no. Now that doesn't mean these things won't help increase their grade; because we all know that having the appropriate materials for studying will result in better preparation for a test and thus give students better test scores. 

That does not mean I don't care about my student notebooks because I do so much that I almost force my students to take notes. I stand near them, hand them a pencil, and give them that glare like you better do exactly what I ask or else... but I have had those who just sit there quietly and stare at you. That is annoying but what else can you really do. You can lead the horse to the water but you can't make them drink. 

 So if I don't give effort and participation grades then what do I grade??? 

Tests and Standards

Yes that is it!! 

In my state (NC) we have a resource called SchoolNet that I use to create tests online for my students to take at the end of each unit. This resource I'm told was created by the same people that make our end of course exams so they are supposed to be the most reliable resources available to us at this time. These tests are very hard for the average to lower level student because they are mostly word problems and often take more than one skill to complete. 

I do handpick the exact problems I want for them to answer because I want to make sure there are at least two problems in each standard on their test. I do this because it is multiple choice and I am trying to avoid them just guessing correctly and then counting that as mastery of a standard. I made this mistake once and realized that a few students who got NO other standards correct managed to get the hardest standard correct because I had only selected one problem for that specific standard and they randomly got it right. 

For this reason my grading style is not a 100% guarentee because of the multiple choice and the possibility that they may have guessed on a question. What I keep telling myself is this is how they are evaluated in the end so I need to overlook it for the larger picture. I have deteremined for me that choosing assessments that are self grading is best because then I can focus my time on the data instead of the time it takes to hand grade all the papers.

So here is my SBG process from beginning to end:

1) Create units for each class that has specific standards "skills" that students must master to understand that unit completely.

2) Create test for each unit and select at least two questions for each standard

3) Evaluate unit tests to determine mastery of standards for all students individually.

I create a google doc after each test that looks similar to the model above. I type in the standards for each unit and leave a row below them to add in the questions from their test that correspond to that standard. Then I pull up each test and mark which questions they got wrong. 

If you are from NC then I highly suggest you use schoolnet for testing as it is supposed to be the best resource for end of course testing that we have to use. 

4) Post standards for students to mark off on their unit sheet (First Picture Above) and spiral review to help students relearn missed standards. 

I have created workbooks for each of my classes that have practice problems and tons of schoolnet (word problems) to continue practicing skills throughout the school year. I do not give homework so the workbook is how I spiral in my review. At the beginning of each period I give 5-10 review problems from this book for review. I walk around to see which questions students are struggling with and then I review those questions as a group on the board. 

Another resource I have found extremely helpful is Delta Math. I will be blogging about this soon but if you can't wait check out the link. I love this program because their are detailed explanations for each question that a student completes. I find this very helpful for students who are great self learners. When we use this website I am able to help with more complex questions or questions from students who struggle severely verses just simple mistake issues. 

5) Students retake standards to prove mastery. In my opinion proving mastery level is understanding how to identify, calculate, and solve the basics of a standard. So while the original test is more advanced mastery of a standard and shows they can apply what they have learned the retakes are more basic to determine can they answer a simple problem from that standard. Others may feel different but when many of my students are below grade level I am trying my best to just get them to meet the basic requirements of each standard in my course. 

Here is what a standards retest looks like:

***They are allowed to retest as many times throughout the semester
 as they need to in order to show mastery of a standard***

I would like to say I have these pre-designed before students are ready for retakes but I am not that organized yet. Maybe this will be a summer goal. It is important to remember to change the problems for each retake. A piece of advice is have students keep all their old retests and have them bring them to you when they need to retry so you do not give them the same retest. Or use this retest check list I created so you can mark off which version of the retakes you have already given them. I almost but the version cody on the standards retest paper that the students get to write on but then I thought about how easy that will be for the students to cheat with if they know what the answers are from students who got their questions correct. 

6) When students get retests correct I update the google doc with C for correct verses if they get it right on the test I put a 1 for correct on the first time. I then update their grade and change it in the system. Here is an image of a unit that finally shows 100% mastery of all standards in a unit. YAAAYYYY!!! This very rarely happens as students give up way too easily. That is why I changed this year to allow them to continue to retake all units even into our second 9 weeks after report card one. This shows them I am willing to give them the whole semester to keep trying. 

If you look really close at the grades you will see there is only one student who met mastery for all six standards on the first try (on the test). They are the only students who recieve a 100. Students that get all the standards correct after retesting they can recieve as high as a 95. I do this just to show a slight difference in the grade book for students who understood material at the time of the test and those who needed more time to show mastery. 

7) Determine how you want to do your grade percentages for the unit tests and the standards.

I feel as though standards are way more important long term but I also think the tests are important because students need to feel some responsibility in being prepared for the test in the beginning. So I originally choose 10% classwork, 20% test, and 70% standards but I found students would bomb test and not care because percentage wasn't high enough to really effect their grade. Then I tried 25% classwork, 30% test, and 45% standards. This is currently my percentages but if you remember I mentioned I only grade tests and standards well because I never have enough grades for what administration wants I include a few classwork assignments to have more grades in the computer.

Next year I am thinking 1st 9 weeks do 10% classwork, 35% test, 55% standards. Then 2nd 9 weeks 40% test and 60% standards. I will eliminate classwork because they will continue to get credit for their standard units even if they were in the 1st 9 weeks. Remember I said I wanted to allow them to continue to retest until the end of semester. Well the only way I can do this in a semester with two different reporting terms is to carry over any standards grades that were in the 1st 9 weeks into the 2nd 9 weeks. This does not include tests from 1st 9 weeks because those are no longer allowed to be retaken. I do allow students to retest on a unit if they ask me (but this has only happened once or twice). Here are a few screen shots of what my gradesheets look like from 1st and 2nd 9 weeks so you understand what I mean. 

1st Nine Weeks Grades

2nd Nine Weeks Grades

These are grades from my math 2 honors class so they are actually really good. Unfortuantely my standard classes do not show this much progress. You might notice some of the test grades are really low but you have to remember these are not just simple tests they are from school net and alot of the questions are word problems and more complex. Also one thing I started doing this year and love is all my tests are cumulative which helps again with spiraling the material and hopefully keeping my students from forgetting the standards at the beginning of the semester. 

Hopefully this post will help inspire someone who is considering standards based grading. Remember there is no right or wrong way to step up your SBG just test it out and see what works best for you. I'm sure you will decide what works best for you as time goes on. 

If you would like to download any of the resources mentioned in this blog you can find them below:

Unit Standards List for student notebooks
Standards google doc
Standards Retest google doc
Retest Check List google doc

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