Foundations: Standards-Based Grading, How my students know their grade

My Gradebook

As I've mentioned before, I don't use PowerSchool to track student grades.  It is an excellent option for standards-based grading (SBG) for sure.  I just like having ALL of the control over my gradebook.  I house all of the grades for my classes in one Google sheet per semester with a tab corresponding to each course I teach.  This gradebook is just for me, not the students.   In terms of layout, see below for an example from my AP® Physics class.

standards based grading DiSanto physics gradebook

Not only do I like to control my grades, but I also like to be able to modify what aspects of the grades I see.  PowerSchool excels at showing me my student's skill averages, but I also really like to see how the scores have changed over time (the top table in the image above) without having to click into a box or look somewhere else.  Another great thing about my own gradebook is I can easily add in cumulative assessments like a midterm or final by just throwing on another column.

Student Tracker Sheets

Now that you know how I set up my grades, I am going to describe how I share only individual grades with the corresponding students.

I created a tracker sheet for each student.  See the example below:
DiSanto student tracker sheet for standards-based grading from AP Physics first semester
This is another Google sheet. Each of the skills is listed on the left-hand side and the score scale is written across the top.  The only cells the student fills in are the ones with the pink border.  Each time they get an assessment back (remember an assessment will have a score for each skill on the cover page), they type each score in the corresponding skill row.  The sheet auto-calculates the individual skill averages and the overall grade in the lower right corner in bright pink.  The very bottom cell (with the 0.941 in it) is linked to my gradebook.  As long as students are documenting each score, what I have and what they have should match!!  You can see for this student it does!

This is like my own version of online grading with a student-engagement twist!!

ASIDE: For those of you who are wondering about some of the details that went into making these tracker sheets, I will point out a few features in Google sheets that I used:

  • I made the entire tracker sheet protected ("Data" and then "Protected Sheets and Ranges") except for the pink cells.  As long as I remain the owner of the sheet, the student can't accidentally erase my average formula or delete the connection to my gradebook.
  • I connected each student tracker to my gradebook by using importrange.

Why do I use this tracker-sheet method?

  1. Some students still think grades are magic!  They think that they come from the depths of a teacher's soul or heart or mind or something.  I want them to KNOW and SEE that there is math behind it...math they can use to their advantage.
  2. I like that the students have to engage with their scores (even if only briefly) to enter them into the proper category.  This highlights where they need to work in the future!  
  3. The tracker sheet is an awesome tool for reassessments.  The students can type hypothetical scores into their weaker skills and see how their overall average is influenced, allowing them to make thoughtful decisions when it comes to requesting a reassessment.
  4. For those students who decide to not track their scores, they can still see my gradebook average at the bottom of their sheet so at least they know where they stand overall.  However, in order to be eligible for a reassessment, the tracker sheet must be up to date!

My plans for the future

I am toying with trying to populate all of the scores from my gradebook into the tracker sheets.  This would take a huge amount of time and might be too prone to error.  It would also remove the student engagement piece a bit (which I like).  

This has been the only element I have been considering changing so far.  I am honestly pretty happy with how this system works!  Much better than the paper tracker sheets I used last year :)

Update: I was able to figure out how to update my student trackers so that ALL skill scores auto-populate.  Check it out!


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