Standards-Based Grading

The following links are a snapshot of how Standards-Based Grading works in my classroom.

Free Online Workshop

Vision / Summary

  1. Introduction & Vision
  2. SBG Summary: A Year in Review

Detailed Breakdowns

  1. Creating Concept Checklists
  2. Creating Quizzes
  3. Grading Quizzes
  4. What Does the Gradebook Look Like?
  5. Retake Policy
  6. Student Learning Folders
  7. Using Formative Assessment
  8. Unpacking Quizzes
  9. Growth Wall


  1. Syllabus
  2. Concept Checklists
  3. Concept Quizzes
  4. Grade Sheet Template
  5. Quiz & Retake Analysis Handouts


Below are resources that are helpful for exploring, implementing, and creating a vision for Standards-Based Grading.

26 thoughts on “Standards-Based Grading

  1. Hi there!

    THANK YOU for putting together such a thoughtful and thorough SBG system. I have been researching on this and your system (especially the autocrat tutorial!) has me sold on switching to SBG next year. There have been murmurs in my district about implementing SBG but there hasn’t been any support. Your site provides great resources and I’ll definitely bring it back to my district.

    Thanks again.

    1. Hey thank you so much for the kind words! I really appreciate it. Just a collection of stuff I’ve found from great resources around the web. Good luck with the switch, and feel free to email me any questions at any time.

  2. This is an incredible blog. I love SBG and am so happy to see your organized system that is so thoughtful. I want to use AutoCrat!!!!!

  3. I am gearing up to make the switch to SBG with my gifted 6th and 7th grade math. Thanks for all of the great resources. Question: When do students retake quizzes? At the end of class? Before/After school? On specified days? Also, do quizzes become increasingly more difficult? (I thought I read that somewhere…) I am a little overwhelmed with the logistics.

    1. Thank you for the kind words! I’m excited that you’re making the switch. Students retake quizzes before/after school or during lunch. However, I’ve found it’s most helpful to put old concepts in new quizzes in order to have a “built-in” retake. So, if I taught solving equations earlier in the grading period but am now quizzing over a new concept, I’ll have questions about the new concept with one or two solving equations questions mixed in. This really helps the students who either can’t come in during non-school hours or who aren’t confident enough to come see a teacher (very intimidating for some kids).

      Also, I usually keep my quizzes at the same difficulty level in order to help kids show progress, but I have no problem with the difficulty level increasing. I think that may be a good idea for a student who is trying to retake to get a grade from 90 to 100. A good challenge is helpful for that student. For my less confident, more struggling students, I like to keep the same difficulty level in order to not crush their spirit.

      As for logistics, I like to just make a digital copy of my original quizzes and then change the numbers from there. This helps save time.

  4. Dane,

    I am beyond thankful for your thoughtfulness, profound insights, and the ways you clearly value the dignity of children throughout all your systems. I’ve been doing SBG for the past couple years and yours is the most comprehensive resource I’ve come across. Just so you know, I’ve been giving presentations/PDs regularly and am directing folks in droves to your site. Hope that’s okay!

    That being said, I have a question about your “Grading System” google doc. How does the “70% Concept Quizzes, 30% Daily” part work out? What constitutes the Daily portion? Is that part still about content mastery, or is it more about class participation? I’ve had my grade book set up where their grade is 100% decided upon based on their content mastery, and I’ve been wrestling over whether to include any type of class participation…

    Your thoughts are much appreciated!

    1. Aseem,

      Wow! Thank you so much for the incredibly kind words! It means so much, and I really appreciate it. I’m glad the site has been useful, and you are always welcome to share or use anything here. I’ve relied heavily on so many other blogs (especially the ones linked on this page) and want to continue in their footsteps with sharing.

      As for the 70-30 system, I stole it from Niles New Tech and started using it at the beginning of my journey through SBG. The 30% Daily pretty much just comes down to work ethic and teamwork. I give a weekly daily grade on Fridays based on the effort and teamwork I saw from each student during the week. I rate them similarly to how I rate their quizzes.

      I also wrestle with how much percentage to put in this category though because I ultimately want the system to be based on content mastery. I’m intrigued by going 100% like you are. The only things that are keeping me in the 70-30 category are (1) remaining in compliance with district rules and (2) I like to reward the kids who are working hard but not necessarily performing highly on their quizzes. In addition, the daily percentage helps differentiate the kid who works super hard to make an A versus the kid who isn’t a hard worker but naturally talented. I’d like to reward the effort over the natural talent without effort.

      Let me know if that helps. Thanks so much again for the kind words and questions!

      1. Thanks for your response, Dane.

        So when you’re giving them that weekly daily grade, do you do it publicly? Or do you just post the grade online/in your gradebook and hope the student checks it? I love the idea of giving them that feedback on their teamwork and effort every Friday, but I’d be frustrated if that feedback is going unnoticed by the students and just getting plugged into my gradebook. I guess my question here applies to all the grades you give out…you don’t actually write grades on student work when you pass it back, correct? How does that work logistically and how do students respond?

        Sheesh, sorry for the multi-layered question, but I also have one more on this idea: When you say “district compliance”, do you mean ed. code and the requirement to have one grade entered per week?

      2. Haha I really enjoy the questions! Keep them coming.

        I do not give the weekly daily grade publicly. I do just post it in the online gradebook for the kids to see (my students are pretty good at checking frequently so they see it). However, now that you’ve mentioned it, I like the idea of having a little mini-conference with each kid to discuss why I gave them the daily grade I did. This could lead to a better relationship as well as better character development. I need to start trying that. Thanks for the idea!

        I still like not writing grades on papers though. This has really helped with kids comparing each others’ grades and making hurtful comments to other kids. Also, one thing I make sure to do is not post a grade where they can see it (online gradebook) until after we have gone over the quiz/work together. I read a good book by Dylan Wiliam that said research has found that kids totally ignore feedback once they see a grade. The students get a little frustrated with not seeing grades immediately, but over time, after I continue to reinforce why I don’t put them on there, they get over it and actually like it. I’ve received notes from former students that said they like how the class was set up to make everyone feel equal and not get people called out. But again, I like your idea of doing some kind of individual debrief to better reinforce progress and relationship building.

        As for district compliance, yes, I meant the requirement to put in one grade per week. Also, my district requires every teacher to use a certain percentage breakdown for major grades and daily grades. We are not allowed to do a full 100% for any category.

      3. The book looks awesome…I started reading what I could from the preview on Amazon.

        I like the idea of a mini-conference too. I’m thinking of trying to get to each kid once a grading period (5 weeks).

        I have another question now:
        How do you do your letter grades? Is it just a straight average with standard cutoffs (e.g. A = 90-100, B=80-89, etc.)?

        Because my class is 100% content, I’ve been trying some sort of balance between average of scores (1-4) + minimum score on any concept (e.g. a B means you have a 3.2+ average, and your lowest score on any standard is a 2). I’m curious, though, how you set up the letter grades because I’m having trouble getting kids away from their comfort of the letter-grade label. At the same time, I would like students to understand the grading system as well as possible, given the fact that so often students feel like grades are something that’s done TO them rather than something they have control over.

      4. My letter grades are just a straight average with standard cutoffs. A = 90-100, B = 80-89, C = 70-79, and F = 69 and below. My SBG scale goes from 5-10 partly because it’s easy to make it fit the 50-100 scale.

        The way I’ve tried to de-emphasize grade mindsets with the kids is to reinforce often with words and actions that I’m not too concerned about grades but instead focusing on how we can improve. One way I try to do this is by putting this image in front of them before every formal quiz.

        My words alone don’t get the job done though. I have to back it up with my practices. Not putting grades on papers has helped. Also, I make sure not to put a grade in the online gradebook they can access until we have gone over the quiz as a class. This encourages them to analyze their work and also prevents kids from peeking.

        One thing that has really helped is to give ungraded quizzes somewhat often. I saw a bunch of kids have “aha” moments when I first did this. One day, I decided to just have them try some quiz type problems and told them that I won’t grade it but will only look at their work to see common mistakes and thought processes in order to help us get better. One kid even said out loud, “it’s because he just wants to see what we know.” It was a big moment of trust building and confirmation for that class and me. So, I highly recommend providing opportunities for kids to be given chances to show what they know with no grade attached. This really helps emphasize that grades aren’t the biggest concern but learning and improvement is. It doesn’t connect with everyone, but I think it helps a lot of kids.

        Different strategies work with different kids, and it takes a while to reinforce and build trust. I feel like I have to repeat my intentions often, but over time, most of the kids seem to buy in. The aha moment above didn’t happen until second semester of the school year we were in. So, it can take a while for sure.

  5. Dane, I want to thank you for the information you have put here. I have been mulling over a switch the SBG in my classroom for a while. I teach 7th grade Math and Algebra 1. It seems to fit extremely well in the Math classroom.

    I have a few questions for you. What does a normal class period look like in your room? How long do the quizzes take? I think I read that you don’t give quizzes on every concept, but I’m assuming that there are times that quizzes are given over more than one concept?

    My Algebra class is currently running on the Flipped Classroom template. The students watch a video created by me about the topic they will be working for the next class period. They asked questions at the end of the video, while it is fresh in their mind (using a website called Edpuzzle). We address those questions at the beginning of class, and then students spend a majority of class working through problems on that topic. At the end of the class, they are quizzed on that specific thing. At this point, I only have 2 questions on the quiz. However, I am realizing that if I move to SBG then I will need to up the number of questions on the quiz if there is more than one standard covered in a section. What are your thoughts on how SBG would fit into a Flipped Classroom situation?

    Thanks again for the website, and the great resources. I will be pointing these things out to my principal for her review.

    1. Hey Allen! Thank you for the kind words!

      A normal class period is pretty traditional in my room. I try to get the kids interested with some kind of hook, estimation, or intriguing situation, and then I direct teach a lot of the time. I try to give as many group/partner opportunities as I can as well.

      As for the quizzes, it depends on the class. Some classes take the whole 50 minute period to finish, and others probably take half the class. I usually have just 4 questions on the actual quiz, and then I provide an optional challenge for the kids who want to prove that they deserve a 100 without having to retake.

      For most quizzes, there are multiple concepts assessed. This helps with the possibility of quizzing too often, and it also allows me to bring back concepts we have already covered in order to re-assess progress and basically provide a built-in retake. This saves a lot of time and also gives kids an opportunity to show progress without having to come in before or after school (as we know, this isn’t always possible for many kids due to circumstances outside of their control).

      That’s a really cool setup you have! I think SBG can definitely fit because like you said, if fits really well in the math classroom. One thing I wish I knew when I first starting using SBG is to not feel pressure to quiz too frequently. I read a quote later on that said not to grade kids on something until learning has occurred. This was huge for me, and now I try to give as many days as possible for the kids to process through what we’re learning before giving a quiz. This has been helpful with morale and performance because if I quiz before they’re ready, many will get discouraged and be tempted to check out.

      Overall, it’s definitely a feeling out process when making the switch, but the kids like it and respond well. They can see good intentions, and it’s also okay to let them know why you’re changing. They definitely like the why behind SBG.

      Thanks again for the positive feedback! Let me know if you have other questions at any time.

  6. Dane,
    Somehow, someway, my math department is taking on SBG in a very similar way to your approach. I think that we all tend to end up with very similar “best practices” since students everywhere react similarly to certain practices. Originally we required students to do a specific set of homework problems in order to earn retakes of assessments, but we found that the students who never did their homework were most likely to need those retakes. So we decided that we needed to allow everyone multiple opportunities and that they needed to be built into future assessments. Then, we had to battle the need for students to retain information. If we allowed for students to get the highest grade possible on the first assessment, then they could opt to never be assessed on it again. Our precalculus team decided to level their questions, so the first assessment only has basic level questions and if a student gets that completely correct they have only earned an 80% on that concept (we call them long-term learning targets). The second assessment has basic and medium level so students can choose to answer the basic again or try the medium. If they get a medium level question completely correct they earn a 90% on that concept. The third and last assessment contains basic, medium, and advanced level questions and the only way to earn a 100% on a concept is to get an advanced level question completely correct. Students only earn one score per concepts, the higher score prevails. We also use rubrics to assess in most courses and are going that direction for all courses within the next year. Other courses have not become this sophisticated and they offer two or three built in opportunities per concept and students have to either remain the same or increase their score to keep the highest score. If their performance decreases then their scores are averaged. As I said, we are definitely fighting the battle of retention and making sure that students learning something well over time not just for tomorrow’s assessment. We also make sure to have all of our classwork and homework resources posted online and aligned to the concepts that will be assessed so that students can go back to areas of weakness and practice more. Our next level of work in precalc is to make sure students know what we mean by basic, medium, and advanced level problems. This is an informal conversation in class and sometimes after we do a problem students are surprised that I consider it a basic level. We have found that the transparency of this system and clear communication can either be the key to making it work or its total demise. However, students are definitely thinking more about their strengths/weaknesses than their overall course grade. They are able to ask specific questions instead of saying that the whole unit is confusing. Students who tend to have been low achievers usually have at least one concept that they shine on per assessment instead of seeing an overall failing grade on their paper. The advantages of this system definitely outshine those of our previous point-based, quiz-test-quiz-test system. We have increased the rigor of our curriculum and students are learning a lot about math and about learning! All the best in your endeavors!

    1. Laura,

      Wow! Thank you for the detailed breakdown of what y’all are doing. I love it! Great to hear that we’re on the same page.

      As for retention, I’ve been trying to do as many spiraling handouts as possible to try to keep the kids fresh with concepts. I have a really good crop of kids, so most of them aren’t giving up after mastering concepts. I also don’t give homework, so I think that’s helped them stay motivated to do in-class assignments since they don’t have to do anything at home.

      Thanks for making another great case for SBG! I’m really happy to hear that it’s going well. Keep up the awesome work!

  7. I am so happy to have found your blog. You have answered some big questions for me as I moved towards piloting SBG in my classroom this year, and especially helped me envision what this whole process might look like. I appreciate the work you put into this blog, thank you.

    I do have a question: for each assessment on a concept (Say the first quiz opportunity, and then later a test) how are you recording these in the grade book? In my mind each concept would have two entries (Midpoint: quiz, Midpoint: Test …or something.)
    I understand your policy that a quiz re-take can potentially replace the previous quiz grade in the grade book. My question is: Is this what the test result on a concept does? It seems that after each testing opportunity, you update the grade book for that one concept entry whether it was a test/quiz etc.
    Am I thinking about this correctly?



    1. one more thing 🙂

      You mentioned that your students record and update scores in their own copy of the concept check sheet. Can you expand on the role this plays in your classroom with your students?

    2. Hey Sarah,

      Thank you for the kind words! I’m glad the resources have been helpful. Great questions as well!

      In my version of SBG, I only give quizzes for the concepts. Those are the major assessment grades. The only tests I give are once a grading period district tests. These are cumulative exams that are required for every teacher in our district to give.

      So, in the gradebook’s major grade columns, I have one major grade for each concept on the concept list. One grade for Midpoint, one for Angle Pairs, and so on. I don’t have a midpoint quiz and a midpoint test. Here’s more about what it looks like in the gradebook.

      For retakes, we just retake the quizzes for an opportunity to replace those quiz grades. Also, the district tests that I mentioned are only allowed to be retaken for up to a 70.

      Let me know if that helps!

  8. Hi Dane,

    Just wanted to say I absolutely love what you have done here! I would love to try out what you have done for Geometry this year and implement this into my classroom. I look forward to seeing what you do with the Algebra concepts, as it looks like it is a hard work in-progress! I do teach Algebra and Geometry to 9th graders (Geometry students being 1 year advanced).

    Couple questions….What textbook does your district use? We use Big Ideas and it seems as though our “Essential Standards” that we want kids to get are spot on with what you have.

    Also, as far as your quarterly tests….are those made by you or given by the district? You mentioned they are multiple choice. Just wondering what those look like. Thanks for all you do! Must’ve taken a ton of time and thank you for sharing!!

    1. Hey Jake,

      Thanks so much for the kind words! I really appreciate it. Feel free to take whatever you like! After reflecting on the Algebra 1 curriculum, I realized I went too fast, so it’ll be edited throughout this school year.

      We use Big Ideas as well, so I’m glad it’s matching what you have!

      The quarterly tests are made by the district and are all multiple choice. Usually it’s questions taken from our released state exams. I think they also pull from our textbook and PSAT practice tests. Pretty much just a normal comprehensive exam over everything that was learned during the nine week grading period.

      Thanks again for the encouragement! Hope you have a great year!

  9. Hi
    I am a first year teacher and I have always wanted to implement SBG and Mastery since I assisted at a school that did this.
    Being new I had 0 resources and your info is a GAME CHANGER.

    I have a question, our grading policies are 50/50 for minor and major grades. To put more into the minor category what would you recommend to put in there? We do interactive notebooks as well so I was leaning towards notebook checks? I teach 7th grade so organization is a HUGE goal.

    Also, if I am reading this correctly “homework” ceases to exist?

    1. Hi Lauren,

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

      Good question about minor and major grades. I’ve found that having minor grades weighted to more than 30% can over-influence grades in either the positive or negative direction. So, when I’ve been in places that require more than 30%, I’ve taken quiz averages and used them as minor grades as well. This may or may not be against the rules in your district, so you’ll want to double check.

      I’m also intrigued by lagging assignments. If I have to take a grade over something other than quizzes, I at least want it to be over something that students have had time to learn. I really prefer not to grade students over material they’re still learning unless it’s a completion grade or something not dependent on right or wrong answers.

      Also, to answer your question about homework, you’re correct. I decided not to give homework after trying it early on in my career. I found that it inevitably put obstacles in the way of a certain percentage of students, and many of their grades were not reflective of their learning because of it. I know many people use homework in a really helpful way though, so I don’t want to discourage it if you find a method that works for you.

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