Random SBG Questions and Thoughts


I read this on a blog somewhere today but can't remember where (going through my Twitter favorites): why would students bother to come in and re-test, if they know they will be tested on it in the future?

For example, Larry gets a  6/10 on adding fractions. He retests and gets an 8/10. Later on, I assess for retention or summative or whatever you want to call it. Now he scores a 4/10. Why bother coming in to get that 8 when he ends up with a 4?


I'm thinking about (as a way of introducing to my students) showing them 'made up' student progress charts and asking them to point out what skills the made-up student is lacking, where they excel, etc to get them acquainted with how it works. Then they will have a concrete example of how to self-assess when they have their own in front of them. Also, it would be a good segue into asking them questions as a way of explaining and modeling how the system works without just giving them a paper to read or a lecture. For example:

  • How could this student improve?
  • How would the teacher know they have improved?
  • How could they prove it?
  • What would happen if they did learn more?
  • What happens if they don't?
  • What happens if they forget?

I teach in a rural school district. If my students stay after school, they stay from 3 to 5 and take the activity bus home. I know someone (sorry I can't remember who) only allows students to come after school for help or to re-test but not both at the same time. I don't think that's practical for me because if they stay, it's not going to take the full 2 hour session to just practice or just re-test. Seems like both could fit in there. My point here is that my students can't just drop in after school. Buuuuuuuut, we have a 40 minute homeroom and my first period is devoted to interventions and working with individual students. So my real question is should I require coming after school for practice and then re-test during homeroom or first hour? Or should I offer after school but not require it since homeroom and first hour are available? I guess no matter what that I should require practice and re-testing on different days, correct?


Should there be a mandatory check-in time? Like once every two weeks students have to meet with me and show me their colored in tracking-progress-graph-chart-thingymabob and identify to me the skills they don't understand and thinking of ways they could improve. I won't require extra practice and re-testing, I can't make them do it, but if I require these types of conferences, then I feel it will show the students (and administrators and parents) that I am doing my part and they are willfully choosing to refuse help. But how to implement?


  1. Good questions. What each person requires for assessing understanding is going to look different based on your students and the culture of your school. We have about 20 minutes built in to our day for targeted interventions. Students who do not need intervention on that day have SSR. Because I work half-time, I will never be available after school. I plan on taking advantage of the 20 minutes by identifying students to work with. I'm also going to play with my classroom structure. I'm hoping to have a "workshop" day 2 times a week. During that time I will be able to pull small groups of students and work with them. I'm really only going to be available during class and maybe the intervention period. I HAVE to make time with in the class to individually meet with kids.

    I guess my advise to you is to brainstorm what makes most sense in your personal situation. Take elements of what others are doing and find the mix that will work for you. You might have to tweak it as you go.

    I am very excited to be on this SBG journey too. I am thrilled to have wonderful resources, like you, to get me thinking on what I want to do.


  2. Elissa:

    I would strongly advise against forcing students to do any kind of reassessment other than the ones done in class. I know you said that, but it's boiling out of me. The reason: you are secretly teaching the responsibility components we all lust after. You have to let go and let the students discover that it's about their hard word and their initiative to come in, if they want.

    As far as mandatory graphs go, I like the idea, but I think that's another way of forcing students to do something that they only some would need and most would balk at. Besides the SBGradeBook will do it for them!

    The hardest thing about SBG is knowing when the teacher should get their little raccoon hands out of things and let the students figure it out without being negligent, of course.

    Your kids are going to love this system, but be wary of presenting it to them as just a new set of hoops.

  3. It seems to me that if you have intervention time built into the daily schedule, you should use it.
    Make re-assessments or tutoring be then. Use after-school only for extensive interventions where the student needs two hours of tutoring.

    Alternatively, if few students can schedule the in-school intervention time, have re-assessment in the first half-hour of after-school, followed by intervention on a different topic.

  4. Sarah,

    Don't you think a workshop day twice a week will really cut into instructional time? I guess I need to hear more about it.

    So you don't have students keep track of their scores? I thought the point of SBG was to have students self-assessing and constantly knowing what they know and don't know. The majority of my students never access the gradebook, so to me having their own graph where they color-fill-write in their scores is an easy way for everyone to be on the same page.

    And I didn't mean require reassessments, I meant if they choose to come in and reassess, that they can't practice/study and actually take the reassessment on the same day.

    I like your idea of having after school tutoring intervention on different topics. Also, I am leaning toward what you said about using my built-in intervention time. I think my best bet is to use homeroom and first hour for practice and re-takes, but not on the same day.

  5. To force or not to force reassessment is definitely tricky. While I do not force my students to do reassessments, I initiate "come to Jesus" meetings with any student in my class who is failing or close to failing and discuss with them the objectives they can re-test and how re-testing will improve their grades. Then I am very forward with them about when tutoring and re-testing is available. 95% of the time students ask to schedule an appointment right then. I don't force it, but it is put right in front of their faces. Our school emphasizes the fact that the majority of our kids are unable to stay late or come early for whatever outside reason (many of them are caretakers for younger siblings), so we've become creative in our intervention models. Here are some ideas: all teachers in my department took one day a month to rotate through everyone else's classrooms during their prep periods. We pulled students who needed minor intervention to do crash study groups with the visiting teacher during class for 2o minutes, we've also partnered with PE to pull kids from PE twice a month during prep to do similar intervention, but that would be for the entire period. Our campus also has a 25 minute advisory period, during which we strategically group students for intervention. After students do tutoring in any of these methods, we'll pass them a re-test on specific topics during class when other students would be working on bell work. This has enabled us to get the vast majority of intervention done within the school day. Still working on other ideas, but that's how we're currently doing things.

  6. teamalzen,
    Great ideas. I'm thinking that using my 40 minute homeroom and first hour for practice and re-testing is going to be my plan of attack. It's set up that way at our school so I can pull kids in during that time and so that's just what makes the most sense for me.