Building Enduring Mathematical Understanding, one lesson at a time.

SBG: Grades

In my last post on Standards Based Grading, I focused on choosing, organizing, and tracking Standards. This post will focus on assigning levels of achievement and overall grades. I have tweaked my procedures bit by bit over the past few years, and I am happy with what I have put together (for now.)

I put together a general scoring rubric that I use for all types of assessments.



I know some teachers create a specific rubric for every assessment, but I find that a bit too overwhelming, and I know it would cause me to assess far less often. On larger assessments, I often sketch out some guidelines for myself in regards to at least some of the standards, especially if there are quite a few questions that fall under the same standard.

I differentiate between types of errors quite often as I am scoring assessments. Conceptual errors can quickly cause a student’s score to fall below standard, whereas arithmetic errors are less significant, as long as the response is reasonable. I have also been known to give scores of 2.5 or 3.5 when students are right on the edge.

Assigning grades is challenging in a Standards Based Grading. Rather than throwing it all in a computer and letting it spit out the grade, (which I have played around with in the past) I have created a rubric that I follow each time I update students’ overall grades.


As I mentioned in the previous post, I only use the most recent score for each standard, although in the comments of the grading program I list the progression of the scores so that parents can see if the student is “headed in the right direction” for that particular standard.

I would love to be able to use something like Active Grade or BlueHarvest, but we are required to use the same online grading program throughout our district. So, I am faced with the task of scanning through the row of scores for a particular student, evaluating where they fall on the grading rubric, and then assigning a value in the “overall grade” column. I have set up the weighting so that this column is worth 100% of the grade. Early on during each quarter, this is not at all difficult, but as the number of standards increases, my effort seems to increase exponentially 🙂 I will often find it necessary to actually write down the number of 4, 3, 2, 1, and 0 scores for each student and then go back and assign grades. This is where my system may collapse on itself this year, since I have tripled the number of classes I am teaching! (For the past few years, as a part-time teacher I have had one section of either seventh or eighth grade math along with a two-period block of sixth grade, whereas this year I have three sections of Algebra 8 and three sections of Math 8.) I will need to find extra time in order to keep up!

I use a variety of types/levels/sizes of assessments. Generally smaller assessments while we are developing concepts and larger assessments at the end of each Unit.


Each standard receives a score whenever it is included on an assessment, so on a Unit Assessment students will be looking at a “chart” indicating the standard, the problems in which it was assessed, and their score for that standard. At this point (or earlier in the Unit as well) students may choose to sign up for a re-assessment on just the particular(s) in which they did not meet standard, along with a remediation plan in order to help ensure their success.

In my opinion, Standards Based Grading marches step by step alongside developing Enduring Mathematical Understanding. Frequent repeated assessments requiring process and/or explanations allow me to judge the depth of their comprehension and forces me to modify my plans in order to encourage deeper understanding. Students are regularly informed of their level on specific targets and receive the feedback necessary to improve.

In the next post on SBG, I will describe some organizational strategies that I use to help facilitate the implementation of my plan.


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One thought on “SBG: Grades

  1. Pingback: SBG: Standards « findingEMU

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