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Standards-Based Grading in Skyward

Leah Kruger

Product Manager

Standards-Based Grading in Skyward

We get asked fairly often when we are going to support standards-based learning/grading (#SBL or #SBG for the social media crowd out there) at the high school level. Many people are surprised when we tell them that this approach is already supported for everyone using our Gradebook.

You can even have multiple classes in the same school using different grading approaches, if you want. To be clear – there are no additional purchases required, unless you feel like you'll need some more training.

Here at Skyward, we're not big on confusion, so we've put together this SBG primer for your convenience. 


Getting Started

If you're not yet familiar with the concept of standards-based grading or why you would want to implement it at the secondary level, start with this blog post, then come back here to learn how we can help. 


Common Terminology

Before we get into the technical details, here is some basic terminology and information that will help simplify the set-up process for you.
Power Standard: A standard that has a substandard. For example, geometry is a power standard. Its substandards may include drawing angles, identifying types of polygons, and calculating the area of a triangle. Within Skyward, power standards are referred to as Subjects, while substandards are called Skills.
Event: An assignment, or the way a student is assessed.
Element: How a grade is determined. Skyward provides two options: Scored (the teacher enters numbers to signify competency levels) and Mastery (the teacher simply checks a box if the student has mastered the material).
Trend Grading: A grading method that utilizes the Power Law equation: the most recent assignments carry the most weight when determining a student’s grade. (To use Trend Grading, select it in the Academic Area of the Skyward Gradebook.)
Academic Area – The Heart of SBG Set Up: In Skyward’s standards-based Gradebook, each course is assigned to an Academic Area. Examples include fourth grade math, introductory physics, sixth grade physical education, and ninth grade biology. Multiple classes can be assigned to the same Academic Area.
The Academic Area is used to set up your standards-based classroom. You can choose a grading method, the grading scale, the standards, and which classes will operate with those standards and grading practices. 

Student Management > Educator Access + > Gradebook > Standards > Academic Areas

Before you start to set up SBG, you should already have answers to the following questions:
  • How will the grades be calculated? Trend, average, points-based, or another method?
  • What grading scale(s) will be used for skill and assignment grades? (You can choose more than one.)
  • What standards will be evaluated? Common Core, state-derived, or school/district-specific?


Becoming Proficient

The move to SBG is a big one, and there's a lot for teachers to soak in. Here are some tips and tricks from the team here at Skyward to help you get off on the right foot. 
  • Keep the Gradebook simple (five or six standards at most).
  • If using Trend Grading, aim to evaluate each standard 4 to 12 times over the course of the class. The optimum number of times for evaluation is 8. 

Skills by Student
This is the View Skills by Student screen. You can set this view from the Display Options menu. 
  • Use the Event Maintenance page to evaluate multiple standards within a single event. 
  • Check the Expected Levels of Performance (ELP) box on the Event Maintenance page. With this feature, you'll be able to easily identify any students that are falling behind. You'll also be able to view charts that demonstrate the growth of individual students or the entire class.

ELP Chart


Learn the Math

Take the time to familiarize yourself (and your team) with the statistical analysis aspects of SBG (this is especially important if you choose the Trend Grading option). You should know about correlation coefficients, mean, and median, and how they all relate to the standards-based classroom. These will help you make accurate decisions in the absence of a strong correlation. 

Need help getting set up? Jump into #sblchat on Twitter or visit our Support Center today. 


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