ProTip Wednesday: 6 Steps to SBG with Gradeable

standards based learning strategies


    1. 6 steps to SBG with Gradeable
    2. Why I SBG-ed
    3. Gradeable vs. Excel
    4. Closer look into Excel Tracker

How to standards-based grade (SBG) with Gradeable

So the Excel-perts say they have a system – and yes, it’s a pretty jazzy system. But for those of us (ie. first year teacher me) who couldn’t trudge around nebulous formulas and cells and sorting, Gradeable helps those that still want to SBG.

1. Sort standards to assess. Choose your grade level and subject. All Common Core standards are pre-loaded and will always be available when creating a new worksheet or quiz.

2. Create quiz and tag. Create your quiz or worksheet and tag each question with the appropriate standard. (Super important!)

3. Hand out to students. Print, copy, and have students complete work.

4. Upload to Gradeable. Take the stack (no, you don’t even need to separate by class period!) and feed it into the scanner. Upload the PDF file and give the system 15 minutes. (You could…organize the library the kids left a mess in or sanitize desks against kid germs – flu season is harsh.)

5. Analyze results and reteach. Behold – mastery breakdown by standard. No double-entering, no Excel-finagling.

What you want to see: Which kid didn’t understand? Which standard are classes not getting? Should I move on tomorrow?

What you do see:

  • Assessment-specific standards breakdown: as a whole, which standards were difficult? Should you re-test?
  • Class-specific standards breakdown: over a period of time, see which standards students are mastering – or not – and know before the chapter test.
  • Frequency tagged: you know they aren’t understanding inequalities so it’s been showing up every day for the past five days – but you see that despite a high frequency tagged, they’re still in the red. Time to buckle down on the reteaching.

6. Enter grades. Entering grades – is easy. Export to a .csv and copy and paste scores into your gradebook.

Standards-based grading helps answer the nightmare-inducing question of: Why didn’t they get it? To teach is to analyze the hard facts, in addition to your gut feeling. Nobody knows your students better than you – so have the facts to back it all up. Approach teaching by putting numbers behind your teaching – all you’ll become is a better, stronger teacher. Gradeable makes it easy by taking care of the analyzing part.

Why I SBG-ed

As a Teach for America Corps Member (TFA CM), we were taught to measure student achievement by mastery. Suddenly, I met my new best friend, The Tracker. The Tracker was an Excel spreadsheet, created by TFA to help CMs measure progress by standards mastery. Once I got over first year teacher jitters, I understood the power of measuring by standards mastery — I knew exactly which learning objectives students didn’t understand and was able to reteach immediately. SBG? I was all on board!

I love color-coded spreadsheets.

But the time – oh, the time. Some of you might relate: I had a school-mandated gradebook that didn’t allow me to do the snazzy stuff Excel allowed me to do (mastery goals, individual class averages, all class averages, etc) so essentially, I was double-entering my grades. Sundays. Nights. Weekends. During Grey’s Anatomy. During PD. (#sorrynotsorry)

In the end, The Tracker gave way to just the gradebook – because you know that’s all you can take after a day of teaching, morning duty, and after school tutoring (and maybe the gym). Would I have killed to have Gradeable in my classroom to give me the insight that I needed? I would’ve given up my prep period for it.

Let’s stack up The Tracker (on Excel) and Gradeable’s SBG features:

Gradeable vs. Excel Tracker

The Tracker


Add specific standards

Color- coded

Tagged Standards Frequency

Average mastery (assessment-specific)

Average mastery, all standards (class-specific)

Total Points (assessment-specific)

Pre-loaded standards

Overall mastery


Visual graph

Conclusion: It’s a tight race between an Excel spreadsheet and Gradeable – but Gradeable wins because of time and ease of use. You’re not a data monkey.

A closer look into The Tracker

The beauty of Excel is that through a series of formulas, you can make the data work for you in a very customizable way. The difficulty is that you need to be an Excel-pert to wrangle the formulas if you’re starting from scratch. Let’s breakdown each part of the spreadsheet:

I can set a mastery goal and have an overview of how my classes are doing—as a whole and individually—on their progress towards mastery.

I would type in each standard tested and analyze the breakdown in mastery (80%+ is considered proficient) to dictate next steps.

The Tracker is malleable and easy — in fact, I’ve attached it as a downloadable resource in this post. However, here’s how technology (ie. Gradeable) makes your job easier and faster.

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