For over a year I’ve considered switching to standards based grading in AP Calculus. I’ve read, listened to conversations, and thought about how it could change my classroom in a positive way. My problem always seems to come with implementation in the traditional grading world. To try to pull out the advantages of SBG in this context I read Frank Noschese’s post on Keep It Simple Standards Based Grading. That post informed much of the system I’m about to lay out.
I want to write about how I’m considering implementing SBG this year in calculus (you might call it SBG Lite). I’d love feedback from people that have implemented SBG and can help me troubleshoot this before I dive in.
First, a student’s grade will be broken into two pieces. The first piece I call the standards portion and is worth 90% of a student’s grade. The second piece is a blog, which is 10% of a student’s grade. I believe the blog should be a component by itself and has value beyond my standards. You can see how I evaluate my reflective learning blogs here.
I’ll lay out the standards portion first. This is basically the SBG portion of the grade. Last year, as I went through each unit and wrote out all the individual standards, so now I have all the standards typed up. I am going to follow Frank’s Yes/No method. Either “yes” you mastered the standard or “no” you haven’t mastered the standard. My test/quizzes are spiraled anyway, so topics from the first unit show up on tests in future units. This allows students to master topics even if they don’t master it the first time. If a student starts out with a yes (on the first assessment for example) and then misses the standard on the next assessment he/she will be moved to a “no”. In other words, students can slide back and forth from yes to no and no to yes, throughout the year. The idea is that I want students to be making sure they understand even the oldest concepts.
I don’t think there’s anything crazy about the above structure (but please, if there is then definitely let me know in the comments). However, I’ve added a bit more to each standard. In order to get a “yes” on a standard you have to master the objective portion of the standard AND the communication portion of the standard. The idea is that there is more to understanding the standard then just being able to do a problem on a test. You also need to be able to communicate the concepts. Check out the image below to give you an idea of how it’s laid out. (The CCC refers to how I assess homework on a daily basis. Check out this post for more on that.)
All of this information will be kept in a spreadsheet that is shared with each individual student. This way students will always know where their grade stands. I’ve provided a sample of that spreadsheet and posted it below. (Clicking the image takes you to the actual spreadsheet).
To summarize: Each student’s final grade is broken into two marking periods and a final exam (the weighting is 3/7 + 3/7 + 1/7 = final trimester grade). Each marking period grade will be broken down as outlined above (90% standards grade, 10% blog grade). Each standard is broken into two parts (objective portion and communication portion). If a student hasn’t mastered one part, then they don’t get a “yes” for that standard. Students must continue to demonstrate mastery throughout the year as any standard can slide back to a “no”.
As I mentioned above, the main purpose of this post is to get feedback on this system and help troubleshooting before I implement it. Any thoughts or ideas you have would be greatly appreciated!