What does it look like in the gradebook?

Standards-Based Grading

The percentage breakdown in the gradebook is 70% Concept Quizzes and 30% Daily Grades. The 70% also includes a mandatory district quarterly exam that ends up being equally weighted with the quizzes.

Why 70%? I’ve found that the quiz percentage has to be high in order for the overall grade to be most representative of student learning. When the percentage gets lower, daily grades either overly inflate or deflate the students grade based on work completion. I don’t want to dismiss work completion completely because it’s certainly a very important aspect of a student’s life, and the 30% is where work ethic comes into play. However, I believe a final grade should ultimately represent learning, and the 70-30 breakdown seems to be a good balance.


Initially, quiz grades go into a personal Google Sheet before eventually going into the district grading program. Here’s a link to a blank template. Let’s take a look at some of the features.

Grades Google Sheet

The best part about the sheet is that it’s conditionally formatted to show certain colors for certain grades. We can quickly see what areas a student is excelling in or needs more work in. This helps with many areas including tutoring, knowing what to re-focus on in class, and knowing where to go with the class in the future.

In addition to individual student grades, there is a row at the bottom for the class average for each concept.

Class Average

After placing the grades in this spreadsheet, it’s time to go over the quiz with the students. We go over the problems in class and analyze where we can improve. Then, once class has ended and the kids have left the room, at some point that day their grades are entered into the district’s online gradebook program. I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to take a screenshot of the program we use, so here’s what it looks like in spreadsheet form.

Skyward Example

Our district requires 9 minor grades and 3 major grades each nine weeks (not all of my grades are pictured above). Usually, I have the minimum number of minor grades, but major grades exceed the minimum number because each concept on the concept checklist has its own major grade. This does create a bunch of grade entries, but I prefer this method because the kids can see exactly what they need to work on. It’s harder to know where a student is strong or needs more work if the concepts are bundled together. For example, if I bundle Translations, Reflections, Rotations, Dilations, and Compositions all into one major grade for Transformations, then the kids only know that they need to work on Transformations. This is more general than I prefer and makes it harder for them to focus their continued learning.

Also, the actual grade entries are directly based on the SBG ratings in the original Google Sheet at the top. However, instead of entering a 9 in the district gradebook, a 90 is placed. 6.5 converts to 65, 8 converts to 80, etc.

That’s a quick breakdown, but please feel free to ask questions!

18 thoughts on “What does it look like in the gradebook?

  1. Hi Dane,

    First of all, thank you so much for sharing your work is such detail. Just a couple of questions about your grade book policy. I see where you’ve broken down each major concept into standards so students can pin-point areas where they need to improve, but 1) What are the Daily 1, 2 & 3 grades? 2) Are there any other grades than just those focusing on standards? Do you have tests over the units as a whole?

    Thanks,
    Greg

    1. Hey Greg,

      Thanks for the kind words! The Daily 1, 2, 3 and so on grades are just any non-quiz or test grades that a teacher gives. I’m still trying to figure out the best approach with these grades. I’ve tried different things and am not sold on anything yet. As of right now, I’m taking a weekly completion grade which represents the percent of problems the student completed for the entire week. Again, not crazy about it, but I’m trying to figure out a way to credit kids for work ethic, hold kids accountable who aren’t working as hard, and try not to grade kids based on accuracy until learning has really occurred. The quizzes are my accuracy grades, and I try to place them far enough out to where the kids have had a good amount of time to process and learn the material.

      For question 2, our district has a unit test once per nine weeks that goes in the gradebook. It’s just a cumulative exam for every concept we learn each nine weeks. That is the only other major grade that isn’t solely focused on standards. I like it as a final accountability piece for each nine weeks.

      1. Thanks for the reply, Dane! Last year I put everything in the gradebook no matter what it was. Homework, Warm-ups and Exit Tickets went in as well, but were flagged as ‘exempt’ so that it didn’t hurt their grade. I think that approach was more effective than doing nothing, but I like your spreadsheet approach better where you can actually show a student exactly where they are in most need to improvement. This year I’m going to count in-class work as a grade, but I’m going to select two or three problems from each ‘work day’ activity that will be thoroughly graded(but grading will be somewhat lenient and students can make corrections for full credit). At the end of each grading period I will add in this in-class work at my discretion. I’m not completely sold on this approach either, but it at least encourages students to keep working hard in class. I’ll keep you posted as I see how things unfold.

  2. Hi Dane,

    Thanks for all of this information! Until now, I haven’t been able to find information as detailed as this without being too overwhelming.

    My question is related to parents and accountability in this matter. I know that with SBG, grades should only reflect a student’s understanding of content – and not necessarily completion of random assignments. I am struggling with this because my parents rely on seeing how students are doing on these day to day assignments (particular checking for missing assignments – we use infinite campus). I want grades to only reflect understanding, but how do I also ensure that parents are in the loop about assignments that I do not want to actually go towards a students grade? I find this important since these are ungraded assignments that to ultimately determine a students understanding and will affect their standards-based grade in the end.

    So I guess the TLDR would be this: What do I do with random assignments, such as homework or group activities, that I want to hold students accountable for without having it affect their standards-based grade.

    1. Hey Jourdan,

      Thank you for the kind words and the questions. This is something that I’m still trying to develop a firm stance on as well. I’d say the most important part of the system is to constantly convey the vision of the system to students and parents. I’d say my 3 core values in the classroom are 1. make mistakes 2. struggle or getting stuck is actually a great learning moment 3. all ideas are valued. I repeat these or variations of them all the time to students and to parents if they contact me.

      They may seem unrelated to the question, but it’s what I continually point back to whenever students or parents have any questions about grades and grading practices.

      As for random daily work, right now I have a weekly completion grade where I literally mark how many problems the students did out of how many were given for the week and give them a grade for that. This keeps them accountable to actually do the work while still not having pressure to make a grade based on understanding yet. I like for these daily grades to only count for 20-30% of the overall grade in order to have somewhat of a work ethic component involved in the grade without inflating or deflating the overall grade too much.

      Another thing that could be done is to give somewhat frequent formative assessment assignments (read this to see what I do) that aren’t for a grade but you can go over with the kids after they finish. You could have the kids do the assignment and then go over the problems as a class and have them see where there mistakes are. The kids could bring them home to show what kind of progress they’re making (ideal world stuff there). Having some kind of assignment where they can see their progress and relay it to parents while still not being graded for it.

      That’s just an idea, but honestly, I’m still trying to figure out the same thing you are. Where do daily grades fit into SBG? Overall, it hasn’t been a big deal in my experience though because the kids buy-in to the core values that are on repeat in our classroom. Not many parents reach out, and if they do, I can explain the philosophy, and that’s usually sufficient. For more picky parents, you could save some of their kids assignments and show them.

      Hope that helps!

  3. Hi Dane!
    I really appreciate all that you have shared about your implementation of SBG and your open access to the materials you have created. It helps to be able to clearly see all the pieces to consider and put in place as I implement something similar in my classroom.

    I noticed that on your syllabus the concept quizzes are worth 70% of the grade and daily work is worth 30% of the grade. I was wondering where the scores on the unit tests you are required by the district to give every 9 weeks are counted in your gradebook? Do you use the same scale (5-10) to grade those assessments?

    1. Hey Rita,

      Thank you for the kind words! I really appreciate it and am glad the site has been useful.

      The district exams are counted in the 70% category along with the quizzes. The quizzes and district exams are all considered “major grades” in my district. When grading the district exams, we strictly use Scantrons and do not use the 5-10 scale. It’s the preferred method of the district and helps them gather data to analyze.

      Thanks for the questions!

  4. Hi Dane,

    Are all of your quizzes and district exams weighted equally, or is there a higher weight for exams? Also, I’m wondering what you would do if a student leaves a quiz blank or has demonstrated no understanding whatsoever. Would you still assign that a 5 (or 50%)? I suppose I’m wondering if it’s possible for a student to fail your course.

    Thank you!

    1. Hey Kaitlyn,

      Thanks for your questions! It definitely is possible for a student to fail. If a student isn’t working hard or isn’t able to reach a high enough level of understanding, they will receive a failing grade. However, much less students fail now because the system seems to reach many of the kids who tend to struggle in traditional grading environments.

      All of the quizzes and district exams are weighted equally. They all fall into the major grade category in my district.

      If a student leaves a quiz blank (only one student did that last year), then it’s okay to give them a zero. Sometimes this type of student needs that message. However, if a student at least attempts something, it usually results in a 5. I’ve found that many of the kids in the second category have turnarounds once relationship building takes place. When that happens, there is hope to get their grade up when they have a 50. This strategy has helped tremendously with my at-risk students.

      Hope that helps!

  5. Hello Dane,

    I am trying to set up SBG for my Algebra 2 classes, and have been finding a lot of good information on your website. Thank you! Can you please clarify the statement that all of your quizzes and district exams are weighted equally? How many points does an individual quiz have in relation to an exam?

    1. Hey Cathy,

      Thank you for the kind words! I’d love to see your concept checklist for Algebra 2 whenever you finish it up.

      As for your question, in my district, daily grades count for 40% of a student’s grade, and major grades count for 60%. Daily grades include any minor grades a teacher may take including homework, daily assignments, or anything else. Major grades include assessments and district exams.

      For me, my major grades are only made up of the SBG quizzes and 1 district exam that we have each 9 weeks. Our gradebook system takes all the quiz grades and the district exam grade and averages them together to form the major grade average. The 60% weight is then applied. So, if a student makes a 90, 60, 70, 80, and 100 on five quizzes during a grading period and makes a 90 on the district exam, then the major grade average comes out to an 82. This grade then has the 60% weight applied.

      Let me know if that helps!

      Thanks,
      Dane

  6. Dane,

    I see in your latest response that your percentages changed. Why the shift from 70-30 to 60-40?

    I’ve been toying with the ideas of implementing SBG for a bit but after reading literally EVERYTHING on your site, I am going to give it a go!

    1. Seth,

      Thanks for the question! I actually still prefer 70-30 or even something higher like 80-20. However, our district requires all teachers to use 60-40. I’ve found that 60-40 puts too much emphasis on daily grades though, and it tends to either inflate or deflate the overall grade. So, stick with 70-30 as you enter into SBG.

      I’m excited for you! Let me know how it goes, if you have questions, and for sure suggestions for improvement when you find better ways to implement it. Looking forward to hearing from you!

      Thanks,
      Dane

  7. Thank you Dane. I am leaning toward using the lesson objectives in the textbook as a jumping off point for developing concepts. Another question–do you do direct instruction (lecture/examples) or do you use alternate types of instructional framework?

    1. That’s a great idea! I try to balance instruction methods, but I do use quite a bit of direct instruction. A typical unit may look like this:

      -Introduce new concept with an interesting hook (usually a 3 Act Math type of problem that encourages group collaboration)

      -After the hook problem, I’ll direct teach with a connection handout that connects the hook to the concept we are about to focus on

      -For the next couple days, I direct teach with notes. During this time, I try to give space for the kids to try problems on their own. Probably looks like the I do, we do, you do model.

      -After those direct teach days, I like to find some kind of collaborative activity that students do in partners or groups. This takes on different forms, but some go to examples are card sorts, partner A partner B activities or another 3 Act Math / problem based lesson.

      -During all of these days, I’m looking for common misconceptions, and I also give one paper based formative assessment to find mistakes to analyze.

      -Some units end with/include a Chromebook day where kids work individually and watch tutorial videos with related practice problems to complete.

  8. Have you considered opening the entire course concept checklist at the beginning of the year and having students move at their own pace and choose their own concepts to work on? I’m trying to envision such an environment for my own classroom at the moment. I wanted to pair it with semi-daily journaling that has students reflecting on their learning.

    Also, in your case all students seem to start at a 50%. What is to stop a student from mastering a handful of concepts and then “checking out”?

    Regards
    Ask

    1. Thank you for the questions! I haven’t considered the idea of opening up the entire checklist for a student-paced class, but it definitely sounds interesting. Right now, I’ve really enjoyed keeping all students at the same pace and trying to dive deep into the concepts on the list. I’d also be interested in seeing if collaboration would stay strong if kids were all on different concepts. It’d be an interesting case study!

      So far, I haven’t encountered a student who checks out after mastering a handful of concepts. Usually, the students who are consistently hitting a masters level are also enjoying the class and continuing to do all the work. I think sometimes the success makes them want to continue to be successful. Overall, I try to consistently preach the message that I don’t believe in taking a lot of grades but instead want to create an environment where students don’t feel grade pressure but can instead put their emotional energy into learning. Also, I try to set the tone from the beginning of the year that disengagement is not an option. That usually takes care of the great majority of students, and the few who don’t follow along are treated with extra care on an individual basis.

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