Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Standards for the Year

We had a great discussion on standards-based grading at the Global Physics Department tonight. Here are my standards for the year for each course, in response to a request from that conversation.

AP Physics:

  • Term 1 (Momentum Principle)
  • Term 2 (Energy Principle)
  • Term 3 (Angular Momentum Principle)
Honors Physics:
  • Term 1 (Motion, Forces)
  • Term 2 (UCM, Gravitation, momentum)
  • Term 3 (Energy, Oscillations, Static Electricity, DC Circuits)
  • Term 1 (Motion, Forces)
  • Term 2 (Oscillations, Waves)
  • Term 3 (Sound, Phases/Eclipses/Shadows, Geometric Optics)


  1. Hi,

    I'm always interesting in improving and tweaking my SBG scheme, and I have a question for you. Take the honors physics for example, Term 1. Do I read your standards to be that there are 25 standards, corresponding to the Core Skills? And the proficiency levels help guide how the students are assessed in terms of mastery or level of achievement?


    1. Hi - thanks for the comment! For honors physics in term 1, there are 10 standards - each box is one standard. The feedback is more granular, with the core skills, proficiency indicators, and narrative comments, but the grade itself is for the whole model. I like this because it keeps a holistic focus, requires more built-in retention checks (reassessing can't just be cherry-picking the skills that you had an issue with last time), and reduces the number of standards to track (and to make reassessments for).

  2. Those are some very compelling reasons for keeping the # of standards low. I'm pretty much on the same page I think. For term 1 last year, I had about only 8 standards. It was nice, but some of the students were distraught with the gap in % as a result of granular standards. For example, some students made only one or two small errors on one standard in their assessments, and the grade would drop by maybe 6% because of the granularity. Of course they were used to getting a grade that was 78/79 points or something like that. Therefore I used short interviews to determine their % in a range. So for the example above, the student's assessments puts them in the range of 94% to 99% and the interview determines the final %. It worked okay, other than the time required to interview 30 kids per class!

    When does Term 1 end for you, roughly how many hours per class? In Vancouver term 1 is roughly 40 hrs.


    1. Having the smaller overall number of standards led me to use essentially a 5 pt scale: Proficient, P-, Developing, De-, Not Proficient. That means that there's considerable variation possible. With binary (yes/no) grading, you'd need more stds for sure. I like the interview idea, but time's always the issue, isn't it? :) Kelly's model uses the stds to get you up to 90%, and then the exam takes over. I use the stds as 80%, final exam as 20%, but the scores on the exam have been tracking very closely to the stds scores since I switched to SBG - a good sign!

      We end a couple of weeks before (American) Thanksgiving, with about 25 95-minute classes (every other day), so about the same amount of time.