Standards-Based Grading Portfolios
“Standards-based grading” is definitely a term that does not spark joy in my life. They’ve been hanging around in Virginia for a while now and pushed much more heavily in some counties than others. My county has been testing the waters over the years and decided that next year school is our time to dive in deep. We will not only be overhauling the way we assess, but our gradebook and grading scale as well.
(Click here for a mid-year update of the portfolios and changes I’ve made.)
If you know me, you know that change stresses me out until I have a plan. So, after a staff meeting where we discussed this in length and read through regulations, I put together a plan. It seemed overwhelming finding and creating resources that assessed each of our one million standards and then on top of that, keeping track of who and who didn’t master that standard and needs to return to it. So, I kept thinking of an easier way to manage this process, until I decided that I would do a complete overhaul of our Data Binders.
Data Binders are, and have been, an important part of my classroom. Students refer to them, reflect in them, and add to them throughout the year. They are the main attraction during our student-led conferences and I offer 5 different versions of them in my store. (Curious about how I work Data Notebooks? You can read about them here and check them out here.)
Once I rolled my sleeves up and got started on creating the assessments, it really hit me how many standards Virginia has and that each lettered standard would need it’s own assessment. Let’s just say I was glad I started this in March of the prior school year. This resource probably took me the longest to create of any that I have over the last 8 years, but it’s done and it’s worth it.
How I Use Standards-Based Assessments in My Classroom
Before school even starts, each student will have a set of assessments for every standard in every subject already added to their data binder. Throughout the year, they are assigned different assessment pages for independent practice.
When a student shows proficiency or mastery of a skill, they receive a sticker or check mark on their “Standards I’ve Mastered” page.
If a student is not able to show proficiency, I will highlight the skill number at the top of the page or on the mastery tracking sheet. Then after some reteaching, I will either let them go back to fix their work on the original assessment, print another blank copy of the assessment, or pull an assessment from another source that assesses the same skill. Students are able to earn their mastery stickers throughout the year and after reteaching. If I do pull another assessment, I will put it into the binder so the parents, student, and myself are clear about what the student was able to show.
At the end of the year, the students have a complete portfolio of their learning from throughout the year. This is a great resource to send home as study material for end of year SOL testing.
Hopefully, this is a product that will be useful in your classroom as well. My team and I are excited to try out this new strategy for assessing and tracking. Since we are still new to standards-based grading, please leave some wisdom below. Any tips or ideas to make it easier or more meaningful are definitely welcome.
(I now have 2nd and 4th grade versions!)
Talk to you soon,