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Standards-Based Grading

The news is Standards-Based PGGP Version 5.0 was released, July 7th, 2007.  (07/07/07)  This is because I wanted to say PGGP 5, 0007, to the rescue.   (Triple-0-Seven... I know, bad joke.)   

PGGP 5 went on sale as a pre-release almost a year before.  It was delivered via Internet Installer and close contact was maintained as teachers began to use standards-based grading.   Teachers have been very pleased and have made helpful suggestions.   Staz Software* and I made the decision to no longer ship CDs or Paper manuals and dropped the price to $42.  (PGGP was $49 + $5 shipping for a total of $54.)  You can order a paper manual but we will also provide front and back pdf files of the manual for printing.  (Print an extra for home or school.)

Below are some screen shots of the new Standards-Based PGGP. 

To understand some of the thinking behind PGGP 5.0, you may want to read George's Ravings on Standards-Based grading. Having spent my life in elementary schools, (well I did go to high school and college) I have seen pretty much everything: Ungraded, Effort Only grading, the Think System (teacher looks up, squints and writes a grade), adding and dividing, calculators and finally electronic grade books. So, I ramble a bit.

How Standards-Based Grading PGGP 5.0 Works
The following examples are from a grade file that has California
Standards for 5th Grade. I named the file 5th Standards.pgp

PGGP 5.0 keeps all the grades that earlier versions kept. This means you don't have to use Standards-Based grading at all, or you can use Standards-Based grading in select subjects. The true beauty is that you can mix and match your grades in the same subject and PGGP will keep track of it all.

Traditional Grading

This is what PGGP has always done.

And it still does.   You don't have to use standards if you  do not want

to use standards.

PGGP 5.0 will keep rubric scored standards.

Standards Only Grid

 Standards-Based Grading

The difference between this screen and the previous is that the teacher has only entered Standards-Based assessments. There is a 5th tab in the formula table that allows you to enter the performance indicators, e.g. Advanced, Proficient, etc. Of course you can enter indicators that are shorter. In this case PGGP is set to average each of the standards.   It can also be set to only look at the latest assessment of each standard and then average those results.

Other than loading a database of your standards,  and choosing the indicators there is little setup. (You could enter standards with assignments as you go, and they will be added to the list for future use.)


To begin to understand the difference between the two screens, take a look at the Assignments Menu:

Entering Assignments

The only change to PGGP's Assignment Menu is the item Rubric Scoring. When an assignment is entered via Rubric Scoring the teacher can choose how many points is being used to score the assessment. Any number from 2 to 100 may be used. If less than ten is used, then PGGP goes automatically into Quick Entry mode, meaning if the teacher types a 2, the 2 is entered and the next cell for the next student is highlighted. This way any scoring guide having less than 10 points can be entered without having to press Enter (Return) after each entry. (Time is time... saving 50% on key presses here.)

Now that you have seen both the Traditional and Standards only subject, it just gets better and better. If you decided you wanted to have some traditional grades along with your standards, perhaps to keep track of effort during practice, you can mix them at any time.

Mixing Standards and Traditional

Here you see part of a PGGP grade book. Column one is a standards assessment and column two is a traditional grade assignment.

This automatic storing and reporting makes PGGP easy to use, especially if your school or district is in flux over this matter.

PGGP will create a Standards Report based on the standards assessed for each subject.

Standards-Based Report

This report is telling the reader several things. First, the subject and grade is printed. Notice in reading the student received Proficient in the Standards Assessments and an C in traditional grading. The * means the student is at risk, perhaps because of performance on state testing or because only one standard is at grade level or better. 

Next each standard assessed is listed followed by the number of assessments given in each standard.

Then the bar gives an indication of the performance level in each standard that can be grasped at a glance.  The five performance indicators are those used by the state of California for assessing standards.

This report can be added to the letter with one click.

A Rubric Formula powers the reporting of standards.

Formula Magic

In this case the teacher has decided to use Auto Formula coupled with Pure Rubric. Auto formula will automatically put in the formula as Rubric Symbols (Performance Indicators) are typed in.  When Advanced, Proficient, etc. was typed Auto Formula put in the 5, 4, etc. for you.

In this case 5 through 1 are used because there are five symbols and Pure Rubric has been checked. The symbols can be anything your district uses.  Many are using 4, 3, 2, 1 and supplying a key on the report card.  Of course, because PGGP is not one of the "lesser grade books" your students and parents can see the real words.

If 100 point was checked it would show 100-20. (Remember, rubric scoring is _not_ a percentage.)

If your district is using "percentage" type numbers to render rubric symbols, e.g. 80(%) for Proficient, you can un-check Auto Formula and put in what ever numbers breaks that are necessary.

In Preferences, PGGP can be set to analyze standards in several unique ways.  
PGGP can average the standards
PGGP can insist that each standard be used only once
PGGP can only look at the Latest assessment of a standard 

Getting Standards Import Files

I do not have all the standards for all grade levels from all the states converted into import files. I certainly don't have your district's special take on standards made into import files.  However, I can cook up a batch from state websites in minutes.  (I am getting pretty good at it.)  Teachers who purchase PGGP have priority. So, use the sample file to get the idea, or you can add standards manually, or you can take a try at creating the database. It is really not very hard. I am taking "donations" of files folks work up. No sense teachers reinventing the wheel.

Getting a set of subjects and standards that are perfect for your situation can be a pain.   The good news is that once you get it set up for your situation PGGP will "pull them forward" each new grading period and each new year.   I suggest template files for schools and districts.   These starter files have all the standards installed in the subjects that match your report card.   This way teachers only need enter the students names to begin using PGGP.

Standards for each Domain can be imported and easily attached to an assessment. The standards can be anything you, your school, your district or state want them to be. You can have 40 separate standards for each of 16 subjects.  I have found that if there are 10,000 schools out there, there are probably 9,998 different ways of handling standards.  Let me know your needs.

Standards Subjects Here is a set of "Subjects" that fit the California Standards.   Handwriting has been added to show how you can vary what is being offered.   Actually, Penmanship is already a part of the state standards, but sometimes districts want to emphasize an area.

Having a set of subjects that matches what content areas you need to keep standards for is the first step in getting standards ready for use.
Once a set of subjects you are responsible for are in PGGP you can import standards.
Import Standards To import standards, go to the file menu and choose the standards file you want.  Each standards file contains a number of standards as organized into content areas by each state.

Found Earth Science PGGP will examine the file and tell you what "subject" or content areas it finds in the file.  If you have a well thought out set of subjects it will be easy to match the standards to the subject.  

Subject Chosen Choose the subject that best fits the content area.   This is where careful study of the standards and your report cards subject will help in getting standards ready for use.   For this example I am going to choose Science.  

This is where your state's set of standards may need tweaking.   Many districts do not have four subjects in Science (Physical Science, Life Science, Earth Science and Investigation.   The trick is to decide what subject titles you are responsible for and which standards are germane for those titles.

PGGP does allow editing and adding of standards but I would not encourage this as a way of entering your standards.   It is nice to be able to add a special standard that your school or class may use.  These don't really need to be an official standard.   It can be anything for which you need to keep statistics.

Data Base Editor

The database shown has way more fields than anyone may ever use. However, the fields help the user make sure the standards are correct.

Domain shows the general heading the standard falls under.

Strand shows the Subject the standard falls under.

Substrand allows for headings used in some instances to further define a strand.

Grade shows the grade level.

Standard shows the numeric or alphabetic designation for the standard.

The larger box shows the text of the standard. Of course this can be more brief or longer, depending on your needs. The maximum length for standard text is 250 characters.

 Of course, you may not want to pound in each standard by hand. PGGP can import the standards. I made this a simple two field database with some key words to help organize the data. This saves a great deal of preparation when creating the database. You can use a word processor, or the database of your choice, including Excel. (which of course is not really a database)

Database Tricks

The database is shown here in a word processor. These were copied (and doctored) from a web pdf. These are California, 5th grade, Language Arts standards.

As stated above, there are only two fields. The two fields are separated by a tab and the last field and the next record is separated by a Return (Enter).

So, if I had typed this, I would type Grade and hit Tab, type 5 and press Return/Enter.

When PGGP reads the file and Grade appears, the number following will be used in the Grade  all records until Grade appears again in the file. This is true of all the key words in the first field.

This is handy because the person creating the database does not have to continually prepare all the fields, many of which are repetitive.

As districts and teachers prepare databases for PGGP, I will be happy to share them. A set of CA standards have been prepared. Several other states are in the works.  (It does not take long for me to create a set of state standards... simply ask.)

 When building the database files, I kept subjects (Strands) in separate files. This helped me in several ways. First, it kept the file from getting super long. Second, when importing standards PGGP will remove all standards from a subject and replace them with the new set. This is a safety feature that prevents a mismatch of standards. Of course you can always use the database editor to change, delete or add a standard.

* A note about Staz Software:  In December, 2007, after Staz continued to endure the crushing effect of Katrina, it was decided that Staz would no longer support PGGP sales.  This ened almost 10 great years of collaboration.  I wish Chris Stasny and all involved with Staz Software the best.  (You hear a great deal about New Orleans and Katrina, but Katrina made landfall in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.)