More on SBGs Four

My district’s committee is working hard to corral the wild mustangs of Performance Based Education and Standards Based Grading, or Reporting. I have a lot of questions, but this new perspective on the 4 helps a lot. This example comes straight from a workshop led by Tom Lafavore that makes extensive use of Marzano’s work as well as that of the Maine PBE cohort schools, I believe.

For me, this example of an assessment task helps to clarify a lot about what SBG is and isn’t, what those numbers (2, 3, 4) actually mean in terms of instructional goals, and what we are gauging when we assess. Here’s the example (I’m not sure whose work this is):


Grade 8


Measurement Topic: Literary Comparisons and Source Material

Learning Goal: Understands how to use details from grade level text to compare and contrast.

2 Task 

  • Describe the following terms: Use a Venn diagram to compare the similarities and differences between fictional and informational text.
    • Compare
    • Contrast
    • Differences
    • Categories
    • Characteristics
    • Synopsis

3 Task

  • Find two opposing views in the newspaper or through other media sources. Using the detailed graphic organizer, identify the similarities and differences between the two points of view. Write a brief synopsis of what you discovered.

4 Task

  • View selected scenes from The Wizard of Oz and The Wiz and use details from each to compare and contrast each director’s purpose.


Why I like this example:

  1. It connects Thinking Skills (Marzano and Kendall’s New Taxonomy) directly to learning targets and assessment tasks.
  2. It shows how a 4 Task can be specifically designed to address higher order cognitive functions, or “utilization of knowledge.” That means that teachers could create opportunities for students to earn a bona fide 4 rather than waiting for them to come up with an inspired act of inference all by themselves, as I somewhat oddly suggested earlier. (I have even heard the suggestion that successfully demonstrating at least one 4 Task performance could be a requirement for graduation. Interesting.)
  3. It reminds me that the way I tried to use SBG as an intern, which was how I saw my mentors using it, which was: carefully writing a very good rubric and then figuring out some distribution system, e.g. all correct or just 1 wrong = 4; most correct = 3; some correct = 2; few or none correct = 1, that this method, although it seemed like a good idea, isn’t really SBG at all. Using that method, I ignored the hierarchy of thinking skills and just smeared all of them, along with the standards, over one assessment “surface” and then resorted to the same, old, percentage-based scoring system to determine a grade, except that I had restricted the results to only 4, 3, 2, or 1.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s