Readers: Please comment with any further questions. I will be updating this occasionally for the next couple weeks and then submitting to the Standards-based grading Gala

What are the different stances on using a 4, 5, or 10 point scale for standards assessment? I'm partial to 4 over 5 but mostly because I'm partial to even numbers over odd. My thinking is:
  • 0 - Nothing right. 
  • 1 - Doesn't know what strategy to use 
  • 2 - Know what strategy to use but doesn't know how to use it  
  • 3 - Knows what strategy to use and uses it with minimal errors  
  • 4 - Perfect
I know some people have mentioned adding scores together and Dan's method is that two 4's equal a 5 but to me that is confusing. I just want to use a 4 point scale every time. Does that make sense? Can I do that? 

How do you manage to assess the same skill more than once? I know when reading Dan Meyer's stuff, he talked about Week 1 assessment being standards 1-3 and then Week 2 would be standards 2-4 so that there was always an overlap and dropping off the oldest one. This confused the crap out of me. How many standards am I teaching per week? How do I assess more than what I taught that week? How do I bring those standards back later in the year?

Answer: druinok @misscalcul8 she said Teach 123, Quiz 123, Teach 456, Quiz 123456, Teach 789, Quiz 456789 - so quiz has mix of old and new stuff on it

What does assessment day look like? Is it weekly? More than once a week? Does it take the entire period? Do we review right before the quiz or is that left up to the students? Is the Warm-Up for that day also the review for the assessment? Do I give written feedback? Can students immediately re-assess on the same day?

When do students achieve mastery? With Dan's method, once you've achieved a perfect 4 twice (which turns into a 5) then you cross that standard off your list and you aren't assessed on it anymore. But wait a minute, aren't we constantly reviewing and bringing standards back to make sure students are retaining information? Does mastery mean getting 4's all the time or just achieving all 4's by the end of the course?

How do we incorporate review and extensions? I like the way Jessica Brtva used the 5 point scale to show that the students have reached mastery and I like the way Persida B uses Review, Focus, and Secondary concepts. Do we review as a class before taking assessments? Should we have to? What should students be using to study? How do I teach them how to study and practice? Or is that something I let them figure out on their own?


What do assessments look like? How many questions per assessment? How many questions per standard? Are you writing the questions by hand or using what program? Are you personally writing these questions or stealing ones from books and worksheets and such (ACT questions for you Illinois people) that pertain to the standards you're teaching? How do you store these questions to use in the future or to randomly sort through when creating assessments and reassessments? Are your questions multiple choice, free response, open-ended, matching, true or false, or a combination of all? Can free response questions/answers work for sbg or should that be a standard of its own?


  1. A Level 3 - Knows what strategy to use and uses it with minimal errors indicates to me that a student is competent in using a skill or in understanding a concept.

  2. Hey there,

    I had this great, long, detailed comment written and then blogspot ate it :(. Here we go again.

    Scale: Use whatever scale you like. It really boils down to preference. I used 5-point all last year on every assessment. No adding. It was simple & it got the job done.

    Assessment: I assess once on a quiz and once on a test for each skill. Skills are also assessed a 3rd time on the 9-week cumulative district benchmark exam. These are what count for grades. I also constantly review with the warm-up, but that doesn't go into the grade book. It's just to help them not forget.

    Assessment day: No warm-up on that day. Whole-class review of some sort instead. Length depends on the length of the assessment. Quizzes only take up maybe 20 min to 1/2 of the period. Tests take about 40 minutes to the whole period for those who are slower. I always have to have something else for those who are quick. Our campus likes to spread out major assignments, so our assessments are always on Friday, essays due on Thursdays, History packets due on Wednesdays, etc. This makes us old school, but I like it. My kids know there is a quiz every Friday. I definitely give written feedback and kids get quizzes back each Monday.

    Mastery occurs before the end of the term. Students are expected to keep mastery until then, hence the final exam. Even though I'm constantly reviewing, it's not constantly counting for a grade. We may play a game in class that has every standard from the semester on it, but tomorrow's assessment only covers 3 standards.

    Review and extension for me occurs the day after the test. On that day, everyone gets their test back with comments. Master students run centers where students who did not reach proficiency must go and do problems for intervention. The advanced kids extend to become teachers and the intervention kids get review from peers. I also give extension and review assignments to kids when they are done with their assessment. Depending on the kid depends on what they get.

  3. Thanks for posting about this. I'm outside the US (currently in Hong Kong and I'm from the UK) so I've been reading all this SBG talk and piecing it together as I go along! So I'm looking forward to learning more by seeing what others say in the comments. It all sounds very useful and interesting.

  4. I've been thinking a lot about SBG lately, thanks mainly to Think Thank Thunk, but also to this blog.

    I've struggled with the assessment problem also, and pretty much given up trying SBG.

    I've posted some of my comments on http://gasstationwithoutpumps.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/standards-based-grading/

  5. "When do students achieve mastery?"

    The points that you brought up for this question are the same thoughts that I have had after seeing Dan and Kate's methods for assessing. I have attended some sessions at conferences on SBG and those schools assess the standards all year. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Marzano also says that students need to be assessed multiple times (more than 2) in order to accurately grade a student.

    I am planning on following Dan and Kate's methods this year to get my feet wet in the SBG pool. I really don't think I am able to assess my students cumulatively though because once my quarter and semester grades are submitted, they cannot be changed. Maybe that's why they only assess each standard twice as well.

  6. Dan,
    Are you saying you think scoring a 3 shows mastery?

    Sorry my blog ate your words, but thanks for reposting! I started quizzing every Friday last year so hopefully my students will be somewhat used to that again. You said the day after the test which would be Monday? So every Monday you ran these centers? Did you find that the same students were in charge every time? Did you rotate? What kind of extension and review assignments are they? So you are basically only teaching on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday?

    Welcome! Check out our wiki, http://sbgbeginners.wikispaces.com especially the Getting Started pages for more links to read about. Feel free to jump in and join the conversation. Are you on twitter? You should be.

    I understand what you mean about not being able to go back and change grades. I'm kind of doubtful that students will want to go back and reassess past the current grading period. If they do, I think I am just going to put in the gradebook again for the quarter. Or I may just put all the standards in every quarter and use it that way.

  7. I did SBG with one class for 2nd semester last year. I used Examview and I liked it a lot - since my questions were dynamic it was really easy to create the next week's quiz. The only problem that I ran into was that Examview would renumber my problems if I deleted the old standards.
    To get around this I had an Examview file where I just added in my new standards each week, leaving all of the previous standards on the test. Then I would export it to Word and delete the standards I was not testing. For example, if I wanted to test standards 4-10, my examview test would have standards 1-10, then I would export to word and delete problems 1-3.
    I just remembered another issue! Suppose I had a standard where I wanted to ask more than one question - part A and part B where each part is a different type of problem. My dynamic problems are not programmed this way, so I would have two examview problems for one standard which also messed with the numbering. I suppose I could recode the problems to have a part A and part B, I just never took the time to do that. Instead, I would renumber the problems after exporting the test to Word and it wasn't that big of a deal.
    To sum it up, there were definitely some formatting issues I had to deal with through using Examview, but the ease of problem creation made it way worth it!

  8. I only do the centers after tests, so it's not many times a semester. I can't lose that many days of instruction due to our jam-packed pacing guides. While there are some students who are frequent hitters, it is not always the same students. A student who does well on only one topic gets to run a center for a little bit, then I rotate in one of the "regulars" so that other student can go get help on other topics. I use worksheets from my adoption for extension and review for students to work on quietly while others finish their test.

  9. I'm jumping into the SBG mosh pit next year, but will restricting my efforts to my youngest 2 classes so that I can commit fully to it without short changing them.

    I've posted my progress here, and you can see a few of the same issues. Struggling to get my head round the re-testing at the moment, perhaps I'm over-thinking it. I definitley think that any re-assessments should be done on a different day. This has 2 advantages as far as I can see 1)The student won't just be relying on repeating the same method within 1 minute of sussing it 2)it shows them that the responsibility of improving lies with them.

    My reservation? If I follow this principle, what happens if a studentcomes back for help, I help, I tell them to come back tomorrow to re-test knowing they could do it if they did, but instead chose not to come back. What then? See them in class yes, but what about their grade. I'd like to say leave it alone and make it clear that this will effect their end of year grade, but is it a measurement of the students current knowledge? Phew - think I may be over complicating this process!

  10. Justina,
    Thanks for the ExamView help. I may have questions for you later!

    So you meant after cumulative/retention tests, not skills assessments?

    I like the 2 advantages you gave and I agree. I think you may be over-complicating a tiny bit. We've got to back off and give students responsibility and ownership of their own learning.