Standards-Based Grading for Geometry by Fred Raper, Pine Ridge High School



             Standards Based Grading Assessment of the Essential Questions of Standards Using a

            Tiered Format The idea is that, in every course, there is a specific set of essential questions that

             every student should be able answer.  This follows the pilot test analogy used by Dr. Colwell.

            These essential questions should be reviewed with the students at the beginning of each unit. 

             Students should be assured that if they can answer these questions, consistently, they will receive

             no less than a “C” (proficiency) in this course.  That set of questions must include an academic

             vocabulary for the course.  The set of specific essential questions, for each unit, is always section C          on summative assessments.

he process is simple, clear and prioritized. 


                 1. At the beginning of each unit, be specific in explaining

             what is necessary to receive a proficiency score.  Exam View Pro and Achievement Series make it

             very easy to create assessments and different versions of the same assessment.


2.             2. Create clear standards based lessons that focus on the essential questions.  Practice is one key 

             to becoming proficient in math.  Each concept should be followed by a simple and clear set of

             practice problems.


3.              3. Take the test.  Tests are usually no more than 15 questions and require work to be shown.  In

             the beginning, tests include many vocabulary type questions which make the test a little longer. 

             But, the problem solving parts remain no more than 15 questions.                                  

Assessments are scored immediately.  Getting feedback to the students quickly is essential. 

             Without the work, how can the teacher or the student find the error that resulted in an incorrect

             answer?   No work = No credit. 

            In this format, I can easily scan each problem and find errors.  If an answer is incorrect and I see   

      that it is a calculation error, I mark it “XC”.  This tells the student that he seems to understand

      the concept, but made a calculation error.  He must find his error and fix it.  If any problem in the

     C section is answered incorrectly, for any reason, an “F” goes on the paper.  You cannot get your

     pilot’s license if you can’t correctly answer and demonstrate the landing part of the test.


      My students know that “F” does not mean “failure”.  “F” means “fix it”.  They have an

     opportunity to “fix it” in our classroom intervention time or after school on scheduled days or at

     lunch 3 days a week.  Each student has a file in the student file cabinet and can find his/her papers

     during “fix it” time.


5.             5. The day after the test is an intervention and fix it day.  I have Link Crew members, class

             students who “already know it”, and me to help individuals with concepts.  Those who made

            calculation errors must find and fix the errors on their own.  We have an abundance of help after

             school.  Of course, the A and B students are always encouraged to fix the A and B sections.  And,

             they really do.



6.              6. Vocabulary is essential and separate vocabulary assessments are given frequently.  Within the

             assessments, there are short response questions that require a Schafer Writing Model paragraph

             as an explanation.  These writing samples are not a part of the basic summative assessment. 

             Separate day and procedure.  Proper use of the math vernacular is required as a part of our

             literacy committee’s stand on the use of academic vocabulary.


The idea is very simple.  Simplicity – Clarity – Priority   (Schmoker 2011)  There are certain questions that every student must be able to answer correctly.  (The pilot test analogy Colwell 2009)

The assessments are aligned with the state standards.  We explain to the students, up front, what they must be able to do in order to receive a proficiency score.  Students are given a guide that contains samples of all the types of questions that will appear on any assessment.  We teach using strategies that have proven successful and are research based.  The students are given a plethora of practice and an abundance of help time.  The proficiency “C” questions are the basic understanding of concepts questions.  There are no tricks or trick questions.  The process is straightforward and it works.


The tiered format encourages students to rise to the next level.  Questions are arranged in progressive sections.


Section C questions of each summative assessment are designed to show basic proficiency in the assessed standard.  Correct answers to all of section C plus vocabulary equates to the average student “C” (2 on the 0 - 4 rubric).

Section B questions require basic proficiency plus an above proficiency understanding and demonstration through a more complex solution than is expected in the basic proficiency set.  This would equate to the above average “B” student (3 on the 0 – 4 rubric).

Section A questions require mastery of the concepts demonstrated through multi-step application type problems and a level of 4 on the 0 - 4 rubric.  The “A” requires accurate solutions to all three sections.  This would equate to the outstanding “A” student.

We always have to remember and remind the students that any incorrect answer can be fixed and credit applied. 

The attached assessment is an example of the format.  This assessment is longer than most assessments due to the early lessons vocabulary.  The terminology is a big part of the initial lessons and needs to be emphasized.  Without the vocabulary, how can we speak math?  A shortened form of each assessment will be a used as a guide that will be given to each student.

See File Share for attached example of Standards-based Assessments for Geometry.