Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Standards Based Grading + The 3P System

A few years ago, I stopped grading my students' work. It was scary, but very rewarding. Instead of grading work, I began assessing their skills and progress throughout the year.

I borrowed my ideas from Steve Peha's 3P Grading System.

I also wrote about "Five Reasons Why You Should Stop Grading."

During this time, I began looking at Standards-Based Grading. If you aren't familiar with SBG, here is a great article from ASCD the explains the concept.

After a couple of years, I began to think about how the 3P grading system could be combined with Standards Based Grading. I wanted to give students the feedback that SBG provides, but also allow students ownership of their grades that the 3P system provides.

Here is the new grading system I developed:

1. Everything is based on a 4-point scale, much like official GPA transcripts:


2. I still do a participation grade that is worth 1/3 of their overall grade. 

I conference with students at midterm and quarter about their participation grade. They give themselves a grade (out of 4), and I give them a grade (out of 4).

I have the students fill out this rubric to help them determine what grade they would give themselves.

The student and I must be within 1 point of each other. For example, if the student gives themselves a 3 and I give them a 2, then we are OK. However, if the student gives themselves a 4 and I give a 2, we must come to a compromise. Either I must come up to a 3, or the student goes down to a 3. Either way, we must be within one number of each other.

3. I eliminated the "Progress" component from the 3P system. For me, it was too vague and difficult to assess. 

4. Instead, we have three weighted grades:
Participation = 1/3
Writing Assessments = 1/3
Performance = 1/3 (Anything not covered by writing, such as Socratic Seminars)

5. After the participation, we added SBG.  Each assignment that we grade has multiple “Standards” that we assess. So one assignment may have 3-5 grades. In the gradebook, it looks like we have a ton of grades, but it is really multiple grades for one assignment.

Here is a rubric we used for our Animal Farm assignment. As you can see, there are six grades that will be entered into the gradebook. This allows me to see what each student is doing well on or needs to improve. It also allows me to track the class as a whole, providing data on trends within the class.

6. Because everything is out of 4 points, you have to change what grade percentages correlate with each letter grade. I multiplied the lowest grade that would be rounded up, and figured out what percentage it would be. For example, 3.45 / 4 = 86% which is the lowest percentage to get an A. 

This is confusing, but here is the formula:

A= 3.45-4.0        (86%-100%) 
B = 2.45-3.44     (61% - 85%)
C = 1.45-2.44     (36% - 60%)
D = .45-1.44       (13% - 35%)
F = 0-.44             (0% - 12%)

Kids and parents will freak about this because they could have a 65%, but it is a B. However, a B is a 3 out of 4 in the GPA grading scale. I tell them to LOOK AT THE LETTER GRADE AND IGNORE THE PERCENTAGE!

7. A grade book might look something like this:

Teacher participation: 4
Student participation: 3
Synthesis: Evidence: 3 (Writing)
Synthesis: Claim: 2 (Writing)
Synthesis: Conventions: 4 (Writing)
Ignite Talk: Preparation: 4 (performance)
Ignite Talk: Visuals: 3 (performance)

In this example we have the participation grade, and two assignments: Synthesis and an Ignite talk. The synthesis has 3 grades, and the Ignite Talk has two grades. The synthesis would go in as a writing assessment, and the Ignite Talk would be performance.

Each of these categories (participation, writing, performance) is weighted 1/3, so the computer does the math. Without doing the math, this student would be somewhere between a 3 and a 4, likely closer to a 4. 

8. Students may REDO any standard that is below a 3 UP TO a 3. This allows students the chance to correct and learn from their mistakes.

For example, the student in #7 received a 2 for his claim statement. He may rewrite his claim to meet the criteria for a 3.

Not all students take me up on this offer, but many do. It is better than giving students an F and not allowing them a chance to learn from their mistakes.

This is not a perfect system, but it is better than what I had before. Students have ownership in a part of their grade by giving themselves a grade, but they can also see what areas they are doing well and struggling in through the SBG component.

Please ask any questions you have in the comments section.