SBG with a twist.

Ok, I need some feedback to see if I’m missing something obvious. Below is a quick summary of my assessment plans for university education courses next semester. While I would love to not give grades, that is not yet an option. So below are my thoughts on how to maintain high expectations, increase transparency, & help students effectively/accurately self assess.

1) I will identify X (we’ll say 10) outcomes for the course. One might be: students will create a coherent set of goals for students & explicitly use these goals to guide all aspects of instruction.

2) I will articulate 3 levels of understanding for each outcome. Using the goals example: 3 – goals viewed as supporting one another & most always referenced in planning, enacting, & assessing instruction. 2 – goals clearly articulated but are not consistently used when considering instruction. 1 – goals clearly articulated, but only referenced occasionally or when prompted.

***Here you should jump down to “EDIT #3” at the bottom of the post to see my most current views on how I think I will calculate final grades.


4) in order to get an A (I must give grades) in the course, the student must be in the 3 range for all outcomes & be able to demonstrate/clearly articulate how the various outcomes relate. For example, they must note how learning theory impacts the promotion of the goals they identified. An A student must be able to articulate a cohesive picture of effective teaching in which the various aspects overlap & influence one another.

5) Here’s where I’m struggling. To get a B students can only have two 2’s at
most, with the rest of the outcomes being 3’s, but a B student need not articulate all interconnections among outcomes. I have considered requiring all 3’s for a B so only the interconnections is what separates A from B. I’d like thoughts/suggestions here!

6) More than two 2’s = C. Getting a 1 or 0 on any standard is an automatic C.

7) two or more 1’s is an automatic D & more than four ones is an F.

8) there will be some minimum requirements beyond these levels, but wont be used to factor a grade. If the minimum requirements are not met, the grade will be an automatic F.

9) students will be creating some of their own assignments to learn & demo learning for the outcomes. My plan is to meet with each student approximately every 3 weeks (5 times per semester) to discuss progress & current grade. This meeting will ask students to self assess & I will guide their thinking to help them stay consistent with course expectations.

Now, I need your thoughts! What am
I missing? What will students not understand or feel is unfair?

Classes start next week, so the sooner the better! Thanks!

EDIT #1 ——-

As a second option, I could make “articulation of the interconnections of the outcomes” a separate outcome. Each outcome is worth three points, I add up the points the student and I decide they are at and divide by the total. While this option is simple, I worry it places more emphasis on point accumulation rather than meeting learning targets. I don’t know.

EDIT #2 ——

As a third option, I will make each standard/outcome worth four points. Three of the points are tied to “levels” of understanding as articulated above. Then the fourth point is for being able to articulate how the standard is tied to/related to the other standards. The reason to make this last point separate is that a student might only understand the standard concerning learning theories at a the “2” level, but be able to articulate how the learning theories connect to other standards. Thus, the student could get a 3 on the “learning theory standard”. Then I would simply add up the points a student got (they will self assess) and divide by total possible to get final grade based on 90, 80, 70 percent scale.

EDIT #3——-

Why not say all standards must be met at highest level (3) for an A. Meaning if even one standard is subpar, the student is in the B range. But most standards must be in 3 range for B. Then if most(more than half) standards are in the 2 (developing) range, the student is at a C. If any single standard is at a 1 (not met or significant gaps/misunderstanding) the student is automatically at a C. If majority of standards at 1 level, grade is in D range.

I like this because implies the cohesive nature of effective teaching (ie: good questions don’t matter if you don’t have good classroom management/rapport). Also, if students are really struggling in an area, they must work on it & not let the “average” pull them up. Additionally, it shows how serious teaching ought to be taken by setting high expectations.  Yet, because I will meet with students individually throughout, they will consistently know what they need to be working on so it’s not high expectations through a “gotcha” method.

Also, students will self assess their levels for each standard so self assessment is still promoted. However, I am trying to provide a framework for final overall grade rather than just average.

PS-the fact that there are so many options shows how arbitrary & pointless “grading” is.

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14 Responses to SBG with a twist.

  1. David says:

    The grading outcomes seem overly complicated. At my school we use criterion based assessment as well, but for each criterion we have a numeric score (which depends on the criterion) which we tally and then convert to a final grade, in our case out of 7, but I’m sure you can see how this would translate into your system.

    The more complicated you make your assessment system, the less useful it is for the students. Can you petition for your course to be pass/fail or are you required to give grades from F to A?

    Can you give the teachers some opportunity to self-assess themselves?


    • jerridkruse says:

      I think i may be explaining it more complicated than is. I think the tallies & final grade you use is very similar to what I have done with the difference being the “interconnections to get an A” & the “one 1 = a C”. I put these in based on marzano’s work that I have seen others reference & also to
      Prevent students focusing on simply accumulating points.

      Thanks for help!


      • David says:

        Well you are in kind of a tough spot because you do need to produce letter grades at the end. However it is my experience that when you have grades of any type, you can’t avoid students from just trying to accumulate points, they’ll just play the game differently based on how you set up the rules.

        Here’s what I would recommend.

        Take your individual criteria and calculate the point totals you want for an A, B, C, D, and F based on the stuff you established above. It will be fairly close to your current system but much easier to explain to your students.

        My intuition says that the more complicated the grading system (in an effort to be fair or whatever) the more likely it is that students will spend too much time focusing on the grades, and not enough time focusing on the learning you are hoping will happen.

        I mean, what you’ve chosen, although logical sounding, at the end of the day has many arbitrary decisions you’ve made. Why 3 levels of achievement? Why do they need to get a 3 in all levels in order to move on? How will you decide what level of achievement they have in each criteria? Will these be somewhat subjective?

        Better off simplifying it a bit and getting rid of rules which aren’t totally necessary. So what that a student could get a B with a 1 and the rest 3s. That sounds okay to me, so long as you have a lot of possible outcomes, and it sounds like you do.

        It’s not like at the end of the year that these grades will have much impact on how good a teacher these people are? Don’t let the grades get in the way, make the system really simple.


      • David says:

        By the way, I think it’s great that you are posting up your grading intentions and letting us pick at them like this. I don’t often get to discuss new grading methods to be honest, it’s interesting to me.


    • GNA says:

      Dang Dave, ur sneaky! What are you doing up so late?! 8}


  2. GNA says:


    Have you seen this?

    I use it in my course: [last summer’s course wiki]

    Honestly, I had trouble following your framework. It seems intuitive, but my sense is students will also struggle w/ it. And, I don’t think providing options for C-Fs is something I even want to consider for our future teachers. Have you had issues thus far w/ students not meeting or exceeding your expectations?

    I’ve been teaching Learning Theories (grad level) for four years now, using basically the same “grading philosophy” and only one student out of approx. 200 has ever received an incomplete b/c he didn’t accomplish the requirements in the course on time (but did w/n 1 week of end of term).

    I wonder if just doing your F2F interviews and weekly dialog, informal assessment, feedback, etc. could be enough for you to guide your students towards A’s as well?

    Meandering thoughts (its 1:23am here), but in kindness and full respect.



    • jerridkruse says:

      I’ll have to check out later. & with grad students I’ve had similar experiences as you, but with undergrads run into some issues of maturity & dedication.

      Thanks for thoughts. Will check out docs.


    • jerridkruse says:

      I could see that critical incident tool working well with learning theory course as learning theory can explain such incidents. This semester I am teaching 2 methods courses so need something more inclusive to help frame students learning. That is, the “rubric” needs to be broken down more so students can make use of it in learning as well as in self assessment. Also, the critical incident analysis seems to limit the kind of assessment whereas I am going to have students create own assignments so need a more detailed assessment tool so can be used with case studies, papers, lesson plans, presentations, etc. Does that make sense?


  3. It does seem complex in this form. This is clearly rubric. Do you have the rubric that you will share with students, perhaps looking at or creating that document will make things more clear.

    I think you have the ideas sorted out in your head and they sound good, just need the language and execution to make it workable.

    Like Dave, I am at an MYP school as well so all rubrics are criterion based. See if something like this helps:


  4. Becky Goerend says:

    Not another post on SBG… =) Just kidding.

    I think making interconnectedness another standard is a good idea. I would go with edit #1 with 2 2’s being a B.


  5. johntspencer says:

    I like it, but it might need to be tweaked (I know the notion of averaging out sort-of ruins it, but an overall point total might be necessary to then create a leveled score)

    Also, have you considered setting it up so that the student identifies five objectives and you have a common set of five that the whole class must meet? I’m thinking there is value in a shared set of items that everyone has, because a class is, for better or worse, a community.


  6. I like your last edit. It is similar to the SBG policy I am using this year:


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