Buzz in Practice

Standards-based Grading (SBG) with Agilix Buzz

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Standards-based grading models reflect improvement over time

Standards-based grading models are designed to track and communicate student performance on specific learning standards (or goals) instead of being organized around the letter grades given to individual assignments.

To accomplish this, a course may have several standards that students are expected to master (educators familiar with standards-based grading recommend using 10-12 standards). Every activity can be aligned to one or more of these standards, so that performance on each activity directly reflects progress on that standard.

Standards-based grading tool setup

Here's a quick rundown of how the Standards-based grading tool works in Buzz:

  1. The Standards-based grading tool must be enabled at the top-most domain.
  2. Once enabled, the tool must be configured at the top-most domain or at a subdomain. Configuring the tool entails setting up Proficiency levels, Proficiency thresholds, and Calculation methods. These components are applied throughout the domain where they're configured.
  3. Once configured, the tool must be enabled for the specific courses where it is to be used. When enabled, the course uses the configurations set up at the domain; however, teachers can customize Proficiency level descriptions for their course and even for individual activities to better match their needs.
  4. Teachers align Proficiency standards with the activities that teach to those standards.

Standards-based grading tool overview

Buzz's Standards-based grading tools are intended to:

  • Effectively communicate a learner's growth over time.
  • Better correlate tasks with specific learning standards.
  • Help teachers focus on and communicate about student progress over time, both for individual students and for classes as a whole.
  • Give students better insight into their own progress and how activities contribute to it.
  • Decrease the emphasis from an overall course grade that can be skewed by various factors.

To help schools help accomplish these ends, we have developed the following Standards-based grading tools in Buzz.

Standardized student Gradebooks that focus on progress and proficiency

All of the Standards-based grading tools we have built are designed first and foremost to improve learning and the student experience.

Letter grades and percentages don't always make intuitive sense to students (especially K-6), and don't naturally correlate to their experience with the work they've done and what they've learned. To better connect the student experience with the feedback and evaluations they receive, Buzz's Standards-based grades Gradebook:

  1. Is organized around and focuses on the Standards students are expected to master, reinforcing that the activities they complete are helping them progress toward measurable goals.
  2. Lists each Standard as expandable headers, allowing students see all of the activities that are aligned to the Standard.
  3. Uses simple Proficiency level titles and icons to show how students are performing overall on a Standard, and how they performed on each completed activity. These titles and icons are standardized across all subjects, giving students and parents a more cohesive idea of how proficiency progress is tracked.

Grading tools that focus on Standards and communication

Like the student SBG Gradebook, the teacher's SBG Gradebook is also organized entirely around the course Standards in order to emphasize student proficiency.

  1. The topmost column headers are the course Standards that expand when clicked. When collapsed, teachers see each student's overall Proficiency level for that Standard listed in the column. Nested within each Standard column are the activities aligned to that Standard. When you expand a Standard column, you see those activities listed in the order they're listed in the Activities tool, and, if they've been graded, you see each student's Proficiency level for each. These scores are in rounded containers to distinguish them from the overall scores.
  2. The Proficiency column displays the number of Standards for which each student has achieved proficiency out of the total number of Standards.
  3. The footer shows the class average Proficiency level for each Standard and activity.

A Final-grade scale set up by admins maps the calculated course score (the average of the Standard scores, represented as a percentage) to a traditional letter grade. In Final grades, teachers can click the speech bubble in the Comments column next to a student to provide individual final feedback.

Research-based default settings

Standards-based grading is configured at the domain-level to allow administrators to create consistency across courses and grade levels, so students, observers, and teachers can easily understand the terminology, processes, and expectations.

When you configure your domain, admins can choose to use Buzz-provided defaults that are based on best practices, or they can define their own configuration. Buzz's default settings include:

  • Proficiency level number (5), titles (Expanding, Proficient, Developing, Beginning, and Incomplete), icons, and descriptions
    • The recommended number of Levels in a Standards-based grading course is 5-6 using a Points scale of 0-4 or 0-5, respectively, where each level is a single digit increase. This approach keeps the system simple with values that are easier to grasp as compared to percentages or large quantities of points. Buzz's Proficiency levels template only allows up to 9 Points to reinforce these best practices.
  • Calculation method (Recent) and Calculation count (3)

A variety of Calculation methods

Buzz'a Standards-based grading tools allow for various Calculation methods of measuring a learner's proficiency and generating a score for each standard or Standard score. Administrators assess their organization's needs, and choose from the following methods:

  • Highest
  • Recent
  • Decaying average
  • Weighted
  • Average

Customizable Proficiency descriptions

It's important that administrators standardize proficiency levels at the domain-level to create consistency across courses and grade levels, so students, observers, and teachers can easily understand the terminology, processes, and expectations. However, because some courses and activities may require customizing the proficiency descriptions in order to firmly align a standard to them, Buzz allows teachers to do that.

We recommend that teachers try to maintain the essence of the description provided by your domain while making them match their specific needs to retain the value of standardization.


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