Standard Based Grading

There's a movement growing in the edu blogsphere called Standards Based Grading [SBG, twitter #SBAR].

SBG in a nutshell (my take):
Instead of doing a test at the end of each topic and giving a student a mark for the whole test, dissect the topic into individual concepts and skills ("standards"), and then, over time - during the teaching of the topic - assess competence in each discrete standard using a simple scale such as "developing, developed, mastered". Make the process visible to students, and give them opportunities to be re-evaluated on standards - with the proviso they can show they did something toward getting a better result. At the end of the topic, the overall student grade is derived by aggregating their current level of achievement on each standard. The goal is to have meaningful formative assessment that supports an ongoing learning conversation with students, providing visible and timely feedback to students and teacher

Three reasons why you might consider trying SBG:
  1. SBG could help to build student motivation and engagement
  2. SBG practices are consistent with research about quality teaching (and here)
  3. SBG could help students in their social development 
SBAR = Standards Based Assessment and Reporting
SBG = Standards Based Grading.

Both terms tend to be used interchangeably, but there is perhaps a subtle difference. The way I'm seeing the difference is that SBG is using the standards based approach to produce actual grades for students, whereas SBAR is more general - we use the approach as part of assessment and reporting, but this may not necessarily be in the form of a grade.

More about SBG:
Think Thank Thunk's posts are a great starting place to learn more about SBG: