What is Standards-based grading (SBG) 

SBG is a goal-oriented technique for teachers to track their students’ progress and achievements while focusing on helping students learn and reach their highest potential. SBG breaks down the subject matter into smaller “learning targets.” Each target is a teachable concept that students should master by the end of the course. Throughout the term, student learning on each target is recorded. Teachers track student progress, give appropriate feedback, and adapt instruction to meet student needs.

SBG is a goal-oriented technique that focuses on the learning and development of the leaner instead of grades and results. In an SBG learning environment, the teacher creates modules from the subject topics and each of these modules is set as learning targets. Each of these learning targets will consist of a teachable concept that students should be able to master by the end of the course. The teacher assesses the actual learning and mastery of these targets throughout the course. They track the students’ progress, provide feedback, and adapt their teaching strategies based on their observations.

While analyzing the SBG model in contrast to the conventional teaching-learning, we can see that SBG take evidence of learning and mastery of the concerts over grades or marks. So the assessments are built to measure understanding and learning patterns instead of how well-versed the students are on the topic. This allows students to master the concept instead of rote learning or textbook learning. In SBG, the results depend on how well the student can learn any given topic.

The entire model shifts around nurturing an ability to learn instead of what the students learn. 

How does SBG improve education

Better feedback

The very core of SBG is built around constructive feedback. Instead of assigning grades or marks for what the students have learned, teachers provide feedback that gives an idea of where to improve and which direction to take from thereon. This positive environment speeds learning and students reach higher levels of achievement — all while being deeply engaged and enjoying education.

Student centricity

Since the SBG is closely bound to learning and improvement, the goals or outcomes are always created and communicated with students in mind. So the entire teaching-learning process revolves around improving student performance and helping them to achieve the outcomes. Targets may be further broken down by rubrics to map out the steps required to achieve better results.

Better teaching model

Teaching in SBG is not just about passing on information but also about finding the perfect learning process that each student can relate to. SBG also includes asynchronous teaching strategies where each student takes on the topics at their own pace. So teachers at any time will know which student is at which level and what to do to help them get to the next level. This way, students will feel inclusive in the classroom and they are always given positive feedback about what they need to improve.

SBG offers intrinsic motivation

As we mentioned earlier, SBG does not rely on letter grades or percentiles but on learning ability and outcome attainment. So in a way, the students are rid of the pressure and frustration that they generally associate with assessments. Even if they perform poorly, the positive feedback and directions on how to improve will motivate them. Also, transferring the focus from grades to learning creates intrinsic motivation to learn better instead of getting better grades.

Accurate measurement of learning

Again, but taking away the focus from exams and assessments and placing it on learning behavior and subject mastery give more accurate student data at every step of the way. Instead of generalizing the whole class with one test, the teachers can gather insightful information on each individual student and use it to find tailor-fit solutions and strategies to improve their performance.

So we covered the basics of standards-based grading, and it’s advantages in this artics. SBG when implemented properly can transform the teaching-learning experience for both the student and the teacher. We will explore more into this topic in our upcoming blogs. So be sure to subscribe. Also check out our other article on teaching-learning, instructional models, education technology, etc. here.

Also published on Medium.