SBG Summary

Standards-Based Grading

I recently received an email asking for a summary of Standards-Based Grading in my classroom. It can be confusing to have a bunch of links without a summary, so below is a day-by-day breakdown of a portion of this year in Geometry (or how it’ll work next year after tweaking some things). I thought it may be helpful to give some detail about what was happening on non-assessment days as well, so you’ll see some of that. By the way, Dan Meyer has a great summary post that originally introduced me to SBG and has proven to be very helpful. Give it a read.

Before the Year Began

During the previous school year and over the summer, the process began by making a checklist of concepts that would be assessed for Geometry (to read more about how to create a concept checklist, click here). Once we have an idea of what standards will be assessed, we can begin to make a rough draft guide to how we’ll pace the course. Here’s how it actually rolled out.


Days 1-9

We began the year by introducing rules and procedures on day 1. For days 2 and 3, we did a couple activities that developed norms for group work and reinforced those norms in an actual lesson that required groups. From there, we began teaching calculating distance on day 4. After teaching and practicing on days 4-5, the students completed a “Free Chance…” This was an ungraded “quiz” that I looked at to try to find common errors and misconceptions. You can read more about this formative assessment process here.

On day 6, we went over common mistakes on a warm up and then completed some practice based on the mistakes. After day 6, I felt like most students were getting the hang of distance, but to allow a little more time to learn and prevent over-quizzing from occurring, I decided to begin teaching calculating midpoints on day 7 instead of solely quizzing over calculating distance.

For days 7-9, we learned more about midpoint / partitions, and we continued to practice distance in order to allow a little more time for concept development to happen. In addition, we completed another “Free Chance” on day 8 to uncover more misconceptions.

Day 10 – First Quiz

Finally, we took a quiz over the first 2 concepts on the concept checklist (distance and midpoint). For more on how quizzes are created, click here.

I chose to combine these two concepts into one quiz because they are somewhat complementary topics, and it seemed like a good idea in order to prevent over-testing. The students completed the quizzes (showing all work and providing written explanations for each question), and then we played a Minute To Win It challenge to have fun and help loosen any nervous tension.

After the kids took the quiz, I graded all of them by the next day in order to quickly turn around and analyze our work. For more on how quizzes are graded, click here.

Day 11 – New Lesson & Quiz Analysis

The day after we took our first quiz, we began class by introducing angles and working through a 3 Act Math problem. Then, we went over the quiz as a whole class. I worked the problems out for the kids while asking questions about common errors I noticed. The students analyzed their quizzes while we went over the problems. In addition, I didn’t put grades on papers in order for the kids to focus on their work instead of their grade.

After we finished going over the quiz, the students came to my desk, and I told them their grade. At this point, they filled out their concept checklist based on the score they achieved.

Days 12-18

During this set of days, we introduced a new concept (angle pairs), practiced, used an ungraded formative assessment, and spiraled distance and midpoint to get more practice with those concepts and clear up misconceptions. After each quiz, I try to spiral questions during class that help with misconceptions and give more practice in order to prepare students for an eventual retake. Students are not allowed to retake a quiz until our next quiz day over a new topic (in this case the new topic is angle pairs). Therefore, we try to use the time in between to get them into situations where they have to continue learning about previous concepts and improve their understanding. This also helps with retention.

For more on retake procedures and policies, click here.

Day 19 – 2nd Quiz

On day 19, we took a quiz over angle pairs (our 2nd quiz of the year). In addition, when students finished the quiz, they were given the opportunity to retake their quiz over distance and midpoint. The retake had different questions, but the difficulty level was similar because it followed the proficient, advanced, and mastery model.

Again, I graded the quizzes and retakes by the next day in order to have a quick turnaround to analyze the quizzes. Also, if students improved their distance and/or midpoint grade on the retake, I replaced their previous grade with the higher one in the gradebook.

For more on what this looks like in the gradebook, click here.

Day 20 – New Lesson & Quiz Analysis

On this day, we introduced a new topic (parallel lines & transversals) with a Desmos activity. After the lesson, we analyzed the angle pairs quiz from the day before. However, we did not go over the distance/midpoint retake because not all students chose to take it (I don’t require students to retake but do provide one in-class opportunity). In addition, we didn’t have enough time to go over the retake in class. However, if the students improved their grade on the retake, I wrote the grade on their paper in order for them to mark their new progress on their concept checklist.

From this day on, students were only allowed to retake the distance / midpoint quiz if they completed a separate analysis form and came into tutoring with the form ready to go. In addition, students could not retake quizzes after the nine week grading period ends. See the retake policy for more details.

Days 21-38

For the rest of the nine weeks (and entire school year), I followed the same process except with new concepts. We actually only took one more quiz during the first nine weeks. In addition, my district gives a quarterly assessment that is required to go in the gradebook as a major grade. So, we reviewed for that assessment for two days. The quarterly assessments are the only additional major grades that go in the gradebook besides the SBG concept quizzes.

Pacing Notes:

  • I like how Dan Meyer talks about pacing, “As you teach, you try to sense when you’ve hit the end of a self-terminating skill.” With this in mind…
  • There were points during the year where I realized, through formative assessment, that students needed more time on certain concepts. Therefore, some quizzes were pushed back a day or two from their original scheduled dates.
  • Similarly, there was one concept (properties of parallelograms) where I actually moved up the quiz because the kids picked up on it quicker than I originally planned for. Pacing is a feel thing that can swing from year to year.

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