Standards-Based Grading Setup
  • 27 Jan 2023
  • 13 Minutes to read
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Standards-Based Grading Setup

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Standards-Based Gradebook and Report Card System

Overview

The standards-based gradebook and report card system is for use primarily in elementary schools using Common Core Standards.  

The standards system is based on skill sets, which are groups of skills similar to the Common Core.

The standards which will be referred to as “skills” are 100% customizable for every grade level. The skill description is a free form text field. You can create a custom skill set or import an existing skill set.

  • 1 or more skill sets must be setup (1 skill set per grade level is common). 
  • Skills from a skill set have to be linked (or tied) to courses (subjects).
  • When a teacher creates an assessment, they pick which skill(s) they want to assess from the available skills linked to the course.  


Closer View of Standards-Based Gradebook 


Standards-Based Report Card Example 

Report Card Sorting Tips

Courses are normally sorted based on the alphanumeric course name. If an alternate course sort order is desired, the course department code can be used for academic courses. Click here for more information.

Skills linked to a course in a standards-based report card can be sorted using the Skill Group Code and Skill Code in the skill set. These codes can be left blank or you can use a Common Core code or just a number. If left blank, the sorting order is alphanumeric based on the skill text. However if there are skill codes, they control the sorting order, meaning that you can use these codes to set the sorting order of the skill group and the skills within their group. See below for more information.

Skills, Groups, and Skill Sets 

  • Skills are the standards on which students are assessed. Skills have colored dots to their left in the interface.
  • Groups are collections of skills and usually there are several levels of groups and subgroups. They are category headings and have a + or a to their left indicating whether the sub-items are expanded or not. Students are evaluated on skills, not groups. 
  • Skill Sets are entire collections of groups and skills. Typically a school might have one skill set containing all the subjects taught for each grade level in the school.

 

A skill set with all groups and skills collapsed: 


When teachers define assessments they choose from these defined skills.  Below is the form showing how teachers choose skills for an assessment.  

Setting the System Up

The setup for standards-based gradebooks is slightly different from that of letter-grade gradebooks.  

Courses and sections need to be created in the desktop system. Click here for course setup help. 


The basis for determination of how many courses to establish is the number of gradebooks that teachers want to have.  There is one gradebook created for every section of a course that a teacher teaches.

Upper elementary grade levels may have additional courses such as Science, Social Studies, PE, etc.  

Lower elementary grades may as few as have three courses: 

  • Math
  • Language Arts
  • Other Skills & Behaviors


Note: The marking system for standards-based courses must be set to skills instead of letter.


Creating & Editing Skill Sets

Click on Admin / Manage Skill Sets (or you can click on Admin / Course Gradebook Settings / Manage Skill Sets).


You will see the list of existing skill sets. 


Click on a skill set to review or edit the included skills.

The skill description is a free form text field. You can create a custom skill set or import an existing skill set (common core standards or a custom skill set from another school). The easiest way to set up the skills is to import prewritten skill sets available from SchoolWise as XML files and then modify them to meet your requirements.

Click the "New Skill Set" link on the top right of the skill sets page to create a new skill. 

Click the "Import Skill Definitions" link on the left to import an existing skill set (common core standards or a custom skill set from another school). See below for additional instructions. 


Tip: When creating or editing skill sets, it is best to organize the skills in an editable document that allows you to copy/paste the spell checked text (rather than typing the text free hand).


Importing Prewritten Skill Sets 

The easiest way to set up the skills is to import prewritten skill sets available from SchoolWise as XML files and then to modify them to meet your requirements.  Save the XML files on your hard drive. 


1. Log in to the Web System as an administrator.

2. Click on the Administration menu and choose Manage Skill Sets. 

 

3. The Skill Set form opens.   Click on Import Skill Definitions.






4. The file chooser dialog opens prompting you to choose an XML file.  Click the Choose File button.  

 

5. Select the desired file. 

 

6. Then click Import. 


The imported skill set is now displayed.

 

Managing Skill Sets

Click on the gear button. 

 

Click on Manage Skills in Set. 

 

There are various hierarchical levels from the subject (i.e. Language Arts or Math) down to the skills.  Groups (category headings) have a + or a indicating whether the tree structure is expanded or collapsed.  The actual skills have colored dots to their left. 

 

Managing Group Headers   

Click on the gear to the right of a Group header.

 

 

 

Click on Edit Group Properties.

 

This opens up the Group Header dialog.  

 

Skill Group Code can be a Common Core code or just a number.  If left blank, the sorting order is alphanumeric based on the skill group name. However if there are skill group codes they control the sorting order, meaning that you can use them to set the order of the subgroups within their higher-level group or subject. 

 

Skill Group Name is the actual text that is used for the group.

 

Detailed Description is not being used presently for the group.

 

Default Skill Type is not being used presently. 

 

Default Scoring Rubric initially sets the rubric for all the lower level subgroups and skills.  This is discussed under the Rubric topic.  It makes sense to do this at the highest level possible.

 

Default Mastery Level Calculation determines how the calculation works for all of the skills within a standard.


Managing Skills

Double clicking on a skill opens the Edit Skill dialog. 

 

Skill Code can be a Common Core code or just a number.  If left blank, the sorting order is alphanumeric based on the skill text. However if there are skill codes, they control the sorting order, meaning that you can use them to set the sorting order of the skills within their group. 

 

Skill Text is the actual text that is used for the skill.

 

Detailed Description can be used for Spanish report cards.  Click here for more details regarding the Standardized Report Card - Spanish.

 

Skill Type is not being used presently. 

 

Scoring Rubric sets the rubric for the skill.  This is discussed under the Rubric topic.

 

Mastery Level Calculation determines how the calculation works for all of the skills within a standard.

 

Add New Skill 

To add a new skill, first select a group header from which you wish to add a skill and then click on the gear button.

 

 

Fill in the appropriate information as described in previous section and click Save, or click Save and Add Another if you want to add multiple new skills.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Add New Skill Group will open the list of group headers. Select the group from which you wish to add a skill and then click on the gear button. 

 

Fill in the appropriate information as described in previous section and click Save, or click Save and Add Another if you want to add multiple new groups.

 

Delete Group Header and Merge Up will delete the group header, allowing the sub-groups and/or skills underneath to become sub-items under the next higher group.

In this example there are too many groups named “Effort” so we will remove some of them.  Click on the gear to the right of the lowest level Effort group.

 

 

 

 

The result now is shown. 

Repeating the process for the second “Effort” group we finally have: 


 thus having eliminated two levels of group headers.

 

Editing Skill Set Properties 

Click on the Administration menu and choose Manage Skill Sets.

 

Clicking on the gear in the main skill set page, we see the following menu: 

Edit Skill-Set Properties brings up the following: 

 

Skill Set Name is where you can rename the skill set as desired.

 

Description supplies the information for the custom report card mark explanation keys.  For example, if the Description is filled in as follows:

 

 

and we run the report Standards Based Report Card Custom Keys:

 

 

we see the key as using the information supplied in the Description field:

 

 

Exporting a Skill Set 

 

Let’s say that you have spent a lot of time getting one skill set just right and you wish to copy it to other grade levels, while modifying it slightly for each grade level.  Here is a step-by-step guide for how to do that.  

 

1. From the main skill set page click on the gear of the selected skill set and then choose Export Skill Set. 

 

 

2. Give the exported file a new name and it will be saved to your hard drive.

 

  

3. Now you can re-import it by clicking Import Skill Definitions.

  

 

 

 

 

4. After it is imported, click on Edit Skill-Set Properties to modify it. 

 

5. Here you can rename the skill set and set it to a different grade level. 

 

Standards-Based Grading Policies

Note: Grading policies can be customized for each skill set or individual skill but it is generally better to use consistent policies in a school district for the benefit of a common standardized report card format. While multiple rubrics can be used in gradebooks, only one default legend and one custom legend is available to use in a standardized report card for the school district.

Mastery Level Calculation Methods

SchoolWise includes a number of calculation methods to determine a student’s mastery level average for a particular skill or skill group.

 

  • Arithmetic Mean: Average of all scores for the skill. As described by standards expert Robert J. Marzano, standards-based grading was never intended to include an Arithmetic Mean, but in practice many schools use this calculation method instead of explaining complex calculation methods to parents. 
  • Average: This uses the aveage of the most recent 3 scores or the average of the highest 3 scores.
  • Decaying Average (% of newest): The decaying average method assigns progressively higher weights to more recent scores. For a single score, the result would be that score. When a second, more recent score is added, it counts for the defined % of the average, and the first score counts for the remaining %. This process is repeated as each new score is added to the series. The latest score always gets the highest defined % while the prior average counts for the remaining %.
  • Median Value of All Scores: The median is the value in the middle of a data set, meaning that 50% of data points have a value smaller or equal to the median and 50% of data points have a value higher or equal to the median.
  • Most Recent Score: This uses the student’s most recent score as their mastery level for the skill.
  • Highest Score: This uses the student’s highest score as their mastery level for the skill.
  • Power Law: This is based on the work of Robert Marzano, described in his book Transforming Classroom Grading. It is a complex statistical formula that not only gives recent scores more weight, but also attempts to predict a student’s future performance based on past scores.

To help understand how the different calculation methods can affect a student’s mastery level score for a skill, consider the following table of sample scores.  Notice that each student received scores of 1, 2, 3 and 4 but in different orders.  A straight arithmetic mean ([1+2+3+4]/4 = 2.5) is not a good predictor of how a student is doing.  Student #1 below is improving dramatically whereas Student #4 is seriously declining, yet by using an arithmetic mean they both would receive a 2.5.

 


Assess #1

Assess #2

Assess #3

Assess #4

Decay 60%

Decay 75%

Power Law

Power Law Interpretation

Student #1

1.00

2.00

3.00

4.00

3.38

3.67

4.00

Continuous improvement, so power law predicts mastery on next score

Student #2

1.00

3.00

2.00

4.00

3.23

3.53

3.66

Irregular improvement, so student will likely get a good score, but not complete mastery

Student #3

2.00

4.00

1.00

3.00

2.55

2.66

2.16

Erratic performance predicts a mid-level score

Student #4

4.00

3.00

2.00

1.00

1.62

1.33

1.28

Continuous decline predicts a low score

If you set the Default Mastery Level Calculation at the higher group levels in the skills tree, that mastery calculation scheme will cascade down to all of the levels below.


Rubrics 

Rubrics are scoring schemas for grading.  Everyone is familiar with the A – F rubric.  California State standards use a four-point rubric called “Proficiency.” 

 

Proficiency Mastery Levels








Name (abbr.)

Min Points

Mastery

Description

Exceeding Standard (ES)

3.5

Yes

Consistently shows complete mastery of this skill

Meeting Standard (MS)

3

Yes

Shows mastery of this skill without help or prompting

Approaching Standard (AS)

2

 

Shows a basic ability with this skill, with some prompting or guidance

Not Meeting Standard (N)

0

 

Shows no practical understanding or ability with this skill

The standards-based gradebook accepts numeric values.  In the Proficiency rubric, values from 0 to 1.9 are Not Meeting Standard, 2 to 2.9 are Approaching Standard, 3 to 3.4 are Meeting Standard and 3.5 to 4 are Exceeding Standard.

 

Another frequently used rubric is called “Relative” and is often used for effort grades. 

Name (abbr.)

Min Points

Mastery

Excellent (E)

3.5

Yes

Satisfactory (S)

2.5

Yes

Improving (I)

1

 

Needs Improvement (N)

0

 

In the Relative rubric gradebook values from 0 to 0.9 are Needs Improvement, 1 to 2.4 are Improving, 2.5 to 3.4 are Satisfactory and 3.5 to 4 are Excellent.  In practice teachers should use 0 for N, 2 for I, 3 for S, and 4 for E.

 

Other custom rubrics are available.  Contact SchoolWise support for more information. 


Setting Rubrics in Skill Sets 

1. Click on the gear in the main Skill Set page 

 

 

2. Choose Manage Skills in Set.

3. Select a group header for which you wish to set all of the sub-items to a rubric.  Setting rubrics at the group level will cause all of the lower items to be set to the chosen rubric.  The same holds true for the calculation method.

 

 

 

 

Linking Skills to Courses 

Skills have to be linked (or tied) to courses (subjects).

To see which specific skills are linked to each course, click on Admin / Manage Skill Sets / Link Skills To Courses menu and then click the specific skill skill set or the click action wheel icon and Manage Linked Skills. 

 

We see a list of courses.  Click on the course CC_LA 1. 

 

The Linking page opens up.  Click Select the Skill Set to Use. 

  

Choose Grade 01 skill set.

 

Since this is a Language Arts course check the Languages Arts subject. 

 

Check “Apply Changes to Current Year Sections in addition to Future Sections” and finally click Apply Selection.


Tips for Editing Existing Skill Sets 

The skill sets and mastery level calculation settings are tied to a course for each school year. All sections of the course inherit those settings. These settings should be defined at the start of the school year.

The mastery level calculation settings are part of the skill set definition, since they may be different for each skill. If changed, the change will affect calculations for all courses (in all years) that use that skill set. So to leave the past years the same, and only implement the change going forward, export the skill set, then import it under a different name, and link that new skill set to the courses for the new school year. You can close the old skill set by clicking Edit Skill-Set Properties and then click "This Skill Set is no Longer Used". This will maintain historical records.

If you change the default skill set properties (such as the rubric or mastery level calculation) after skills have been linked, the current school year skill properties will need updated to utilize the new default skill set properties. Bold values indicate the default setting is different.

Depending on how significant the desired skill set changes are, you can edit the existing skill text, or create a new skill, or create a new skill group, or create a new skill set.

New skills can be added without impacting old report cards since the new skill was never linked to any courses in prior years.

If you edit the existing skill text or delete an existing skill from the skill set, this will impact old report cards if they ever need reprinted. You can maintain historical records by unlinking the old skill from all courses and then closing the old skill (click Edit Skill Properties and then click "This Skill is no Longer Taught Here").

Note: You can't unlink a skill from a course if the skill is in use. Marks already entered would have to be deleted before you can unlink a skill.