July 17, 2015

District SBG Implementation

I am so excited!! The district decided to move to K-12 Standards Based Grading. They spent the past year researching, including consulting with Bob Marzano, Kim Marshall and Tom Guskey. The charter school in the district has been using SBG so the leadership team did site visits to learn more. This summer there were two 3 day workshops for teachers who are going to pilot the program to learn and begin the work. There is a three year plan unfolding. If you know anything about working in schools that serve high need populations, you might know just how flabbergasting this paragraph is. Teachers rarely see roll out of initiatives as intentional, most initiatives last a few months before the next one comes along. I thought I was going to have to spend the week holding my tongue and deciding what points were worth fighting for, instead I was floored by the level of preparation and I got to spend my time digging into the important questions. The work I got to do the past three days made so many connections - the work we have done building curriculum maps over the past two years led beautifully into our task this week of choosing priority standards and writing progressions. It's amazing. What a beautiful gift to get this summer to renew my faith in our ability to succeed as a district!

I have to say, the work of unpacking the standards is something that's absolutely worth doing yourself. I was on the geometry team when we did our curriculum mapping so this was the first time I'd carefully analyzed the algebra standards. I followed the map, but I knew what we needed in Algebra 1 from teaching it five years ago and since I only taught below grade level kids this year the small shifts to push further in Algebra 1 compared to the previous Massachusetts standards didn't apply. But, since not everyone has the luxury of three days of curriculum work with their team, I'm happy to share what we came up with (below).

Our year was already divided into units. We took all the units and found priority standards to fit those units. Then we distributed the remaining standards for Algebra 1 (according to Appendix A) as supporting standards for the priority standards. Once we had all of those mapped out we identified the skills students need to demonstrate to be proficient. The skills were divided into a "Score 3" and "Score 2." A two is partial understanding and a three is proficient. So we separated out the more complex skills and declared those as the requirement to earn a three.

These are far from final, but I am amazed how much work we got done - the three mornings were spent on an introduction to the philosophy of SBG and some whole group discussion. Then we had the remainder of the morning and our afternoons to work in content teams. We were so productive since we had long stretches of uninterrupted time to wrap our heads around the ideas, get into a groove and maintain momentum. We had teams of grade 3 math, grades 4/5 math, Algebra, Biology and grade 9 English represented. Last week they had a few other teams. At the high school we are hoping to pilot SBG with the entire 9th grade team, at other schools they are looking at one subject per grade level. There are a lot of details on how to make this work with our existing grading software but I think we're up for the challenge. (Speaking of, if you know a program that does SBG and student information services well, I would be happy to pass that recommendation along to the district!)

Without further ado:

Curriculum Map

My poster for explaining the scoring (that I think still aligns with the district understanding)

Math Practices Posters

Priority Standards and Proficiency Scales (The blank pages help with double sided printing)


  1. Yay, that's awesome! We are working this summer to align our SBG levels and policies between disciplines and creating a "Learning Habits" section that will be common to all. Having the entire school use this framework has been amazing - look forward to chatting more about how this is going for you at TMC!

  2. Tina I'm so jealousssss! You are right, we never see new initiatives "unfolded"- more like hurled! Congratulations! And thanks for posting your work. For those like me that are the only teacher, it's overwhelming to think of unpacking the standards and creating these type of things solo with no input from anyone else. I will definitely be using these as a place to start rethinking my Algebra I course. Thank you!