End of SBG?

At the time I wrote this I was pretty set in not doing pure SBG for another year. As survey responses continued to come in, things balanced out and ended up actually in support for SBG. I will take the summer to reflect on how I can adjust the SBG portion of the course and improve some things per the student feedback I received. one of the biggest issues is Active Grade. It is a great tracking device for SBG but my school system does not use it. I pay for it and have kids/parents use it as a way to visually track progress. This is great if they actually do it. More troubling is the fact that i have to convert the SBG (Active Grade) portion (40%) to a numerical grade in the system grade book. I end up updating it every 2 weeks. I have to use a formula to do this and it is really time consuming. So, I am considering keeping up with Active Grade as a purely formative measurement and counting weekly quizzes as summative checks on learning. This means the Active Grade proficiency levels would not be converted, but if they are realistic should be demonstrated on the quizzes. Reassessments would still be allowed but for quiz objectives only.

I am not sure about this but the amount of weekly work to run SBG around a traditional system is too much at this point. If i am to continue with it, something has to give.


About 3 years ago I decided to turn my teaching upside down and adopt standards based grading/learning. I believed then, as I do now, that the spirit of SBG is the way to teach and learn. I poured my heart and time into it, researched and questioned, tweeked and adapted. I am sure even with all of that there were things I did incorrectly.

My discovery after 3 years of doing it is that is no more effective in my case than traditional learning. I have not seen big gains in student achievement, kids have repeatedly told me they dislike it, and in terms of time it has been a huge burden. Kids did not reassess as hoped and many did not track their progress. It was too complicated.

Have I liked it?

I have liked it as a way of learning and teaching. If I did not have to be subversive to do it, if kids and parents understood why it is a good way to learn, and if it was not so hard to implement in a traditional learning environment I would have liked it more. I feel in my heart that it is the right way to learn. I simply have not seen it as an effective way to do things in my school culture.

Take aways.

  • I will probably incorporate the best parts into a hybrid type of learning environment in future years. There are many applications of SBG that do quite well in a traditional environment.
  • Getting kids and parents to actively buy in and monitor their own progress is very difficult. They do not want “one more thing” to look at to figure out where they stand. They do not want to use a formula to convert a SBG proficiency score into a numerical grade. I don;t really want that either.
  • I feel I can be more effective being a traditional/hybrid SBG teacher that either of them separately.
  • I feel that if you do not push yourself to try new things, take risks and innovate then you are doing it wrong.

Have these 3 years been a waste of time? No way. I am not saying that it was a poor way to teach or learn. I think kids learned a lot this way whether they perceive it or not and in a different way. I think it has made me a better teacher. I think the kids benefited most from being reflective and thinking about how they learn. One aspect they liked was reassessment. I will find a way to keep that as well as other aspects of SBG.

In no way is this a judgement on SBG as a whole. There are so many different ways to utilize it in a classroom and i do not feel my way is the only way or the best way.

What next?

At the heart of what I want to do is talk to kids more about what they know. I want them to own their learning. I am strongly considering digital portfolios next year as a step in this direction. I also want to conference with kids and have them self-assess more often. There are other irons in the fire as well.

I don’t think you can ever stop trying to innovate in education. I am proud of what we did in the past 3 years and they were 3 of the best years in my 18 year career.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s