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How do I enable and configure Standards-based Grading in my domain?

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Before setting up Standards-based Grading in your domain, learn more: What is Standards-based Grading in Buzz?

You will need to configure your Standards-based grading settings for the courses in your domain.

Note: Because SBG is designed to allow students to better understand how they are performing against defined learning standards over time, teachers and other course authors must be able to align activities with the standards that they're intended to strengthen and assess.  

In non-SBG courses, Buzz refers to standards as objectives;  with SBG enabled, we use standards. When the term objectives is used in the following articles, you will see standards in your courses:

Enable Standards-based grading for your domain

Standards-based grading is disabled by default in Buzz because it takes planning and coordination between administrators and teachers to use it effectively.

To enable Standards-based grading for your domain, open the Features tab in the admin app, and toggle the Standards-based grading switch to on.

Once on, you must still configure it for it to appear as an option in courses.

Configure Standards-based grading for your domain

Standards-based grading configurations are defined in Domain settings. Configuring SBG at the domain-level allows 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, you can choose to use Buzz-provided defaults that are based on best practices, or you can define your own configuration.

Note: Finalize your settings before creating courses. Courses are created using the settings configured at the domain; however, once courses are created, they do not inherit changes made at the domain level.

On the Standards-based grading card in Domain settings, you must define the following:

  1. Proficiency levels: The Proficiency levels editor is where you define what proficiency means in your school or organization and how many levels of proficiency there are. You also define how each Proficiency level is described to learners and how they are represented as Points.
  2. Proficiency threshold: This is the overall Proficiency level that learners must achieve in your domain to show adequate mastery of the content, meaning that intervention is not needed. The dropdown options align with the Proficiency levels you defined above.
  3. Calculation method: Standards-based grading models allow different methods for measuring a learner's proficiency. Buzz supports the following methods:
    • Highest: This method averages the n highest-graded activities in each standard. You specify the number (n) in the Calculation count field.
    • Recent: This method averages the n most recently graded activities in each standard. You specify the number (n) in the Calculation count field.
    • Decaying average: This method averages graded activities in each standard according to automatically generated weights; older-graded activities have progressively decreasing weights compared to recently graded activities.
    • Weighted: This method averages graded activities according to their individual weights in each standard. Teachers and other course authors can set up certain activities to carry a higher scoring weight than other activities for a particular standard than others.
    • Average: This method averages all graded activities for each standard.
  4. Calculation count or Decay rate: This field appears as Calculation count when the Recent or Highest Calculation methods are selected. It appears as Decay rate when Decaying average is selected.
  5. Final-grade scale: While Standards-based grading is built to give better insight into how well a learner's performance progresses over time, many schools still require teachers to return grades as a letter grade. The Final-grade scale editor is built to translate Standards-based grading performance into a final letter grade.

Proficiency levels

The Proficiency levels editor is where you define what proficiency means in your school or organization and how many levels of proficiency there are. You also define how each Proficiency level is described to learners and how they are represented as Points.

  1. Click the Proficiency levels button to review and edit your Proficiency levels.
  2. When you click the Proficiency levels button for the first time, you will be asked to click a Use defaults button in order to edit them. After the first time, clicking Proficiency levels takes you directly to the levels.

Note: By default, Buzz uses the Recent calculation method with a Calculation count of 3.

  1. Level: In this field give each level a name that best represents them. Buzz's default settings use the following, from greatest to least proficiency: Expanding, Proficient, Developing, Beginning, and Incomplete.
  2. Points: This number represents the number of points needed to achieve the associated Proficiency level. This is used for grading purposes, and is never displayed to learners.

Note: 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.

  1. Color: Each Proficiency level is assigned a color as a visual identifier. Buzz's default colors transition from shades of red to orange to shades of green, where reds indicate non-proficient levels and greens indicate proficient levels.
  2. Icon: Each Proficiency level is assigned an emoji icon as another visual identifier. The emojis are intended to represent the level, and are most useful and important in K-3 grading environments.
  3. Description: In this field, you want to define what each Proficiency level means for the learner. The default text is from the student's point of view, to make it easier for them to relate to. The text should be a high-level description at the domain; teachers and graders are able to edit the Descriptions for each activity to make them more pertinent to the learner's assignment and experience.
  1. Click the garbage can icon next to a Proficiency level to delete it.
  2. Click Add level to create a new Proficiency level.
  3. Click Done to save.

Standards-based grading Calculation methods

Our Standards-based grading tools allow for various 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 the method as part of the initial configuration.

Calculation examples

The examples in this section are all built around the same five activities (receiving the same scores out of 4), so you can see how applying the different Calculation methods can impact Standard scores.

Highest method

This method averages the n highest-graded activities in each standard. You specify the number (n) in the Calculation count field. If the calculation count is 3, this method averages the three highest-graded activities.

Note: This method does not use weighted scoring; each highest-graded activity contributes equally to the calculated proficiency score.

Highest calculation example

By using only a student's highest scores for a standard, this method supports the Standards-based grading idea that students should be rewarded for their best work.

In the following example:

Max points possible: 4

Calculation count: 3

The three highest-scoring graded activities contribute to the Standard score: Activity 5 with a score of 4, Activity 3 with a score of 4, and Activity 2 with a score of 4. To calculate the Standard score, the method sums each of the scores in the set and divides them by the total number of values.

(4 + 4 + 4) / 3 = 4

Standard score: 4

Activity title Scored date Score Used for calculation
Activity 1 September 3, 2021
2
Activity 2
September 8, 2021
4
Activity 3
September 13, 2021
4
Activity 4
September 18, 2021
2
Activity 5
September 23, 2021
4

Recent method

This method averages the n most recently graded activities in each standard. You specify the number (n) in the Calculation count field. If the Calculation count is 3, this method averages the three most recently graded activities.

Note: The activities are selected by the scored date, so if a teacher re-grades an activity, the new grade is used as the most recent.

This method does not use weighted scoring; each most recently graded activity contributes equally to the calculated proficiency score.

Recent calculation example

By using only a student's most recent scores for a standard, this method supports the Standards-based grading idea that students should be rewarded for improving over time.

In the following example:

Max points possible: 4

Calculation count: 3

The three most-recently graded activities contribute to the Standard score: Activity 5 with a score of 4, Activity 4 with a score of 2, and Activity 3 with a score of 4. To calculate the Standard score, the method sums each of the scores in the set and divides them by the total number of values.

(4 + 2 + 4) / 3 = 3.33

Standard score: 3.33

Activity title Scored date Score Used for calculation
Activity 1 September 3, 2021
2
Activity 2
September 8, 2021
4
Activity 3
September 13, 2021
4
Activity 4
September 18, 2021
2
Activity 5
September 23, 2021
4

Decaying average method

This method averages graded activities in each standard according to automatically generated weights; older-graded activities have progressively decreasing weights compared to recently graded activities.

Note: This method does not use manually weighted scoring.

Decaying average example

The Decaying average formula supports Standards-based grading by recognizing that the most recently graded activities are more representative of the student's current proficiency, and thus puts more weight on those activities. It does this by exponentially decreasing the weight of older activities. However, unlike some calculation methods, this method still recognizes that past work is relevant.

In the following example:

Max points possible: 4

Decay rate: 33%

Every activity contributes to the Standard score in a Decaying average calculation. With a Decaying average, all activities are treated as if they began with the same weight, then each activity’s weight is decreased exponentially as each new activity is graded, using the Decay rate percentage. Then the weighted scores are averaged.

A decay rate of 33% means that each activity’s weight is decreased by 33% from each more recently graded activity. 

(1 - .33 = .67) For simplicity, we use .67 in the calculations below.

So, if Activity 5 has a weight of 10, then Activity 4 would have a weight of 6.7 or (10 * .67), Activity 3 would have a weight of 4.489 or (10 * .67 * .67), and so on for the remaining activities.

Activity 5 weight: 10 * 1  = 10

Activity 4 weight: 10 * (10 * .67) = 6.7

Activity 3 weight: 10 * (10 * .67 * .67) = 4.49

Activity 2 weight: 10 * (10 * .67 * .67* .67) = 3.00

Activity 1 weight: 10 * (10 * .67 * .67* .67* .67) = 2.02

These weights are used to calculate the Standard score.

((4) + (2 * .67^1) + (4 * .67^2) + (4 * .67^3) + (2 * .67^4)) / 

((4) + (4 * .67^1) + (4 * .67^2) + (4 * .67^3) + (4 * .67^4)) 

* 4 = 3.33

Standard score: 3.33

Activity title Scored date Score Used for calculation
Activity 1 September 3, 2021
2
Activity 2
September 8, 2021
4
Activity 3
September 13, 2021
4
Activity 4
September 18, 2021
2
Activity 5
September 23, 2021
4

Weighted method

This method averages graded activities according to their individual weights in each standard.

This provides the teacher with greater control of how each activity contributes to the Standard score as they can set up certain activities to carry a higher scoring weight than other activities for a particular standard than others.

Note: In Buzz courses that use a traditional Gradebook, course authors can set up weighted Grading categories as well as giving individual activities weighted scoring. Standards-based grading courses don't need Grading categories, so authors manage weighted grading in individual activities, only.

Learn more:

Weighted calculation example

You can use this method to support Standards-based grading by giving greater weight to activities that come later in a course.  This way a learner's grade is more impacted by the activities they complete when they have a better grasp of the material, thus better reflecting their improvement over time.

In the following example:

Max points possible: 4

Every activity contributes to the Standard score in a Weighted calculation, so to calculate the Standard score, the method sums all scores multiplied by their weight, then divides by the sum of the weights.

((2 * 5) + (4 * 5) + (4 * 5) + (2 * 10) + (4 * 10)) /

(5 + 5 + 5 + 10 + 10)

= 3.14

Standard score: 3.14

Activity title Scored date Score Weight Used for calculation
Activity 1 September 3, 2021
2 5
Activity 2
September 8, 2021
4 5
Activity 3
September 13, 2021
4 5
Activity 4
September 18, 2021
2 10
Activity 5
September 23, 2021
4 10

Average method

The Average calculation method averages all graded activities.

Note: This method does not use weighted scoring; each activity score contributes equally to the calculated proficiency score.

Average calculation example

In this method, every activity's score impacts the Standard score with the same weight.

In the following example:

Max points possible: 4

Every activity contributes to the Standard score in an Average calculation, so to calculate the Standard score, the method sums each of the scores in the set divided by the total number of values.

(2 + 4 + 4 + 2 + 4) / 5 = 3.2

Standard score: 3.2

Activity title Scored date Score Used for calculation
Activity 1 September 3, 2021
2
Activity 2
September 8, 2021
4
Activity 3
September 13, 2021
4
Activity 4
September 18, 2021
2
Activity 5
September 23, 2021
4

Final-grade scale

While Standards-based grading is built to give better insight into how well a learner's performance progresses over time, many schools still require teachers to return grades as traditionally formatted letter grades. The Final-grade scale editor is built to help translate Standards-based grading performance scores into a final letter grade.

  1. Click the Final-grade scale button to review and edit it.
  2. When you click the Final-grade scale button for the first time, you will be asked to click a Use defaults button in order to edit them. After the first time, clicking Final-grades scale takes you directly to the scale.

Note: Buzz's default values map the Proficient level as:

A > = 75%

B > = 62.5%

C > = 43.75%

D > = 25%

F = anything lower

  1. Name each possible grade (letter grades are shown in the example) and define the minimum score (as percentile) that a student must earn to receive each (75% for an A in example). Buzz automatically translates the Proficiency shown into final grades.
  2. Click the garbage can next to a bracket to delete it.
  3. Click Add bracket to create a new one.
  4. Click Done to save.

Final-grade scale calculation details

The average of each individual Standard score is calculated and converted it to a percentage, so if the average score of all standards for a student is 2.75 and the max level is 4, then the percentage would be 68.75% (2.75/4).

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