Standards Based Grading Rubric for Math

Our math team will be implementing SBG in our courses this school year. With 4 weeks to go until school starts, I tackled the task of creating a rubric for my sixth graders. The idea for my rubric was totally borrowed from MissCalcul8 and her post here. Thanks to Mathy McMatherson for directing me there! I will be using a four point grading scale, with the addition of a score of zero for answers that are blank.

Update: This image has been updated since post was written.

This year, I will have a number of seventh/eighth grade student assistants in my class to help as math peer tutors and technology helpers. They will be a great help throughout the year, especially as we roll out 20+ iPads in October! I bring them up, because they are the reason for the ninja badge idea. Since they will serve as technology experts in my classroom as well, I also will be pushing them to develop some new skills. If you read my last post, you probably know that I love using Google tools in the classroom.

These students will work through the Ninja Program, started by Jeff Utecht. You can read his blog post from 2011 on how to Become a Google Apps Ninja.

So, the rubric above is a start for me on setting up my SBG system. I still need to think about how to apply this to projects. I am tempted to just record scores for those projects on the 1-4 continuum. Will students not take it seriously with the “low point” value? Other classes will continue to give them 50 or 100 point projects. I like the idea of keeping the score/points low, so that students do not play the points game. In a SBG classroom, that game is already much harder to play, because everything counts towards proficiency of the material.

Additionally, I would like to go through the common core for sixth grade math and connect the rubric to each standard. What would this look like? Possible a math example of what each level looks like for that standard? Or, maybe a one-liner describing what a score of 2, 3, etc. would show as far as understanding? So, many question marks as I get started here. What do you do?

I want to make the change as simple as possible on the students, with the expectation that a grading system like this puts a lot more responsibility on individuals as they track their progress and improve their understanding.

17 thoughts on “Standards Based Grading Rubric for Math

  1. At the beginning of summer I was so excited and eager to change to SBG this fall, but now that I have only 3 weeks left and feeling very inadequately prepared, I’m not so sure any more.

    “… I would like to go through the common core for sixth grade math and connect the rubric to each standard,” Yes, let me know what you get and I’ll just STEAL it!! :)Thanks, Dan

  2. I’m considering a move to SBG based on Marzano’s work and also need to have a firm handle on what a 4, 3, 2, 1 looks like for each standard. What I am also grappling with is doing SBG within the confines of the traditional point/percentage system. Our online gradebook reporting system isn’t set up for SBG yet we’re being encouraged to assess that way. Yikes!

    • Yes, converting the 4,3,2,1 to percentages is going to be new for me as well.

      Currently, I am looking at this.
      0 – 0%
      1 – 35%
      2 – 60%
      3 – 80%
      4 – 100%

      Now to get my gradebook to accurately report like that…because it will default to:
      0 – 0%
      1 – 25%
      2 – 50%
      3 – 75%
      4 – 100%

      On the second list there, I don’t like the 3 being 75%. If I am considering a 3 to be near proficiency, an 80% seems better. But there I am again thinking about grade letters instead of just proficient or not.

      • I’ve been using SBG for three years. Each year, we’ve played with the percentages a bit to try to make sure we were accurately reflecting what our students know. Last year, we used a scale where 75% equated to a 3. The parents and students didn’t like that – in our gradebook program – that meant they were earning a C. Since we still have to use a traditional gradebook program and give letter grades on the report cards, and since C means average, our department has been grappling with determining what “average” looks like. When I look at your rubric, it seems that (maybe) a 3 would be average – the student isn’t quite there yet and doesn’t have the finesse of a B or the elegance or sophistication of an A.
        What are your thoughts?

        On another note, I LOVE your rubric. Would you mind if I used it this year? If so, where can I download it?


          • Thanks for those resources. The idea of conjunctive grading intrigues me because it further eliminates the points game of students averaging scores together.

        • Thanks for the feedback! Currently, I am thinking a score of 3 would show that they student has a decent grasp of the concept, but continue to make small errors throughout the process and work shown. I had 3 = 80%. Of course with averages, this doesn’t really end up being a ‘B’, since any lower grade bumps it all down. So, if I am thinking a 3 is a B, then something like 85% could be more reasonable.

          I wouldn’t say that a 2 is 75%, because a student who is just beginning to get it is still not in the average range, skill wise. More for me to think about…

          Yes, here is the link to download the ninja rubric (excel file):

          • I’m also interested in using the ninja rubric! I tried the link to dropbox, but didn’t find any files. Is there somewhere else I could download it? Thanks!

      • I use a 0-4 point scale but instead of percentages I simply average them to generate a GPA. It is a concept students are already familiar with, it is easy to do (and easy for them to do for themselves). I adjust the scale slightly because I don’t like a 4.0 being the only way to get an A, but otherwise I like it.

        It does present a problem in grading programs that are only designed for percentages, but my group calculated have GPA-percentage conversions.

  3. I teach middle school math and will be in my third year of using SBG. I also have to deal with my standards-based grades being transferred to the traditional percentages. If you are going to go full-blown SBG by only giving a grade based on each standard, the overall grades are going to be very skewed with a 1-4 scale. I know the overall percentages/grades are against the philosophy of SBG, but it’s the reality that we have to deal with if your school still does percentages.

    Would you consider altering your rubric to a 1-5 or even a 5-10 scale? I think Shawn Cornally recommends that with teachers that have final grades as percentages. It’s easier to communicate the individual grades for each standard in relationship to the overall grade. This would also place equal weight on each category in relationship to the overall letter grades (right now, your students would have a 50% chance of getting an F).

    The only downfall of creating more categories on your rubric is that you would need to find more names for the ninja levels 🙂 I love those by the way!

  4. Dan et al.,
    You should check out this post about converting sbg categories to grades: “Those aren’t numbers, so don’t treat them as though they were!”
    In essence, teachers fall back into the 100pt grade trap by treating categories as equivalent to percentages and not what they actually are and represent, which are LEVELS of learning. Conversion, when necessary, must preserve (as best it can) those levels.

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  6. Our district is allowing the math teachers at our building to pilot SBG but they haven’t allowed us access to the Common Core standards that are in the gradebook via our AEA. We wanted to stick with the standard 4 point Marzano rubric but didn’t want to fight the battle of a proficient showing up as a 75%, C, instead of what we deemed work to be 80%. To avoid that issue our Gradebook (Powerschool) allowed us to create codes that we could create, write a description for and assign a percentage. The math teachers came up with the following 4 point scale:
    NU – (No Understanding) 59% (a 1 on the Marzano scale)
    PG – (Progressing) 69% (a 2 on the Marzano scale)
    ME – (Meets Expectations) 80% (a 3 on the Marzano scale)
    EE – (Exceeds Expectations) 100% (a 4 on the Marzano scale)

    This allowed us to refrain from putting an insane amount of problems over one specific standard to allow for the students to have to complete numerous problems just to fit a 100 point percentage scale. We are now assessing using less questions and assigning a score to the students based upon demonstrated critical parts of the standard being assessed. (ie: If a student is dividing fractions they may get all of the problems right except for the last problem involving a mixed number and not demonstrate the understanding off the process by neglecting to convert the mixed number to an improper fraction. A mistake of this manner would earn the student a PG as opposed to only being -1 using a points based system.) I too am frustrated by the necessity of having to assign a letter grade when we know that they are not motivation for most students, but I try to work (fudge) the system that I am working within as much as possible to make it more about the process rather than the point mongering. (We still have to assign the students a final letter grade in our pilot.)

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