SBG + Holistic Rubric

Update: Check out my Star Wars Holistic SBG Rubric.

Sbg is coming together more and more for me.

My latest hang up was on how to grade, how to label grades, and how to calculate a percentage.

After tweeting with @druinok and @bowmanimal, here is what I've come up with. I will have four levels that are simply defined. Students will receive a level rather than a number, along with specific feedback. No numbers. Yet.

When it comes time to calculate a grade in the grade book, each level will convert to a percentage. Then I will average them all together.

Here is a student/teacher/parent/admin friendly picture of my holistic rubric.

The red is what I would think about while grading. The black is what students would be thinking while learning. Master and Expert are kind of confusing and I don't love Practitioner. I really like novice though. But these just sit better with me than Advanced, Proficient, Developing, Below Mastery, etc. Do you have any other suggestions? @mathtastrophe suggested Padawan, Jedi Knight, Jedi Master, and Jedi Grand Master. Maybe I do need something more teenager appropriate... Ninjas and unicorns anyone?

I posted the numerical scores on this so that I wouldn't forget them. Not sure if I should post them for everyone to see right away.

Here is my question. How would I go about communicating this? I want to get away from numbers on assessments and focus more on feedback. Obviously more descriptive feedback that just a level but still. Do I give students a copy of this with numbers on it? Then, aren't they still working for a percentage rather than learning? Do I wait until midterms and the end of quarter to put actual numbers in the grade book? That might be a nightmare and ignores students who want to constantly know their grade. But if I immediately convert the level to a grade, what is the point of the levels? I might as well go ahead and just call them percentages.

This is the last thing that is really nagging at me.  I don't want to be deceptive about how I'm calculating a grade. But it seems like if you tell them then it just loses some of it's meaning...or something.

So my two questions: What can I name my levels? When/how do I convert words to numbers?


  1. I use (from lowest to highest) novice, apprentice, practitioner, and expert. Master and expert are too closely related in my opinion.

  2. I really do believe that the meanings of the headings can be parsed to death to the point of distraction.

    For example, what kind of "expert" gets a wrong answer when they do it on their own? The definition of a "practitioner" is one that engages in an activity. Aren't these all practitioners?

    We began with adjectives: familiarity/competence/mastery and switched to competence/proficiency/mastery. We were (rightly) challenged on them often enough that we said forget it and got rid of them. It's just not worth it to try to defend them. They are mere decorations for the meaningful, substantive words you have on the right.

  3. I love the star wars reference...I am going to brainstorm something like that for next year! Maybe ninja levels. thanks for the idea.

  4. I really like cheesemonkeysf's opening activity with the rubric. You give kids examples of student work and ask them to rate them according to your mastery levels. Last year there were some really good conversations, and if it's about material that you're covering in class you can tie it in to an error analysis activity.

  5. I am developing my scale and am leaning towards the names of each level being:

    4 - Expert

    3 - Proficient

    2 - Competent

    1 - Novice

    I do like the Star Wars scale as well!

    I believe that the best thing is post these rubrics around the room so students are never in doubt what each level means, and I would just give the number 1 - 4 on each standard on a quiz. Students will be able to use that number to know where they are at. I know you don't want to put a number on it, especially on the first assessment, however, I don't believe it will be that distracting (this is my first year doing this so I am not positive on this). Then when I put it in the online gradebook for students and parents to see, that is where I would put the actual score from your scale 3 (expert) = 8.5/10 or 85/100.

    Have you made decisions so far on how you will do this for the upcoming year?

  6. I have to say I LOVE your Star Wars grading rubric. I just stole it, and will use it shamelessly. Especially given the makeover I have given my room this summer.

  7. Yes it will fit quite conveniently with your decorations. :)

  8. Love it! I'll be using it too :)

  9. I have been using a 4 level grading system for about 3 years. I don't do the points/percentage thing at all, I use a GPA calculation instead. The levels are worth 1, 2, 3, or 4 and are averaged to give a GPA. I like the grade distribution much better, kids already understand it, and it is easy to calculate.

    But I was curious what your thoughts are now that you've been in school for a few months. I have never been able to get past the "So is this a C or a D?", or "So what's my grade?", or "Yeah, but how many points is that worth?". They are little grade robots and resisting their onslaught is getting tiring. Has your experience been the same? Any words of advice about solutions that have worked for you?

    Thanks! :)

    1. I haven't experienced any great breakthroughs. For the first few assessments I wrote the conversion on the board so they can see and now they pretty much know them. I get a few questions but for the most part they know. They are definitely still motivated by grades and I have very few students who actually come to reassess.

      I don't know what else to do but to push through and constantly remind them that they can retake tests and I refuse to give any kind of extra credit.

      I'm honestly disappointed in the results but on the flip side I find grading more enjoyable because it goes faster and I feel less like a points-Nazi since I am grading holistically.

      I like being able to generalize and pinpoint if a student has no idea how to start vs can start but gets stuck vs can complete task but makes sloppy errors vs perfection.

      It makes sense in my head but is still not sticking in theirs.

      Hope it helps to know you're not alone.

    2. It does, thanks! I have the same feelings and I, too, am not willing to go back to the old way! I really like the levels you have... totally stealing the wording.

      Love the blog... will be following :-)

      (by the way, I'm new on the blogging thing, so I had an identity crisis and changed my name, just in case it confused you... LOL)

    3. A good name goes a long way... I like this one better. =)

      Thanks for your support! Steal as much and as often as you'd like.