The SBG buy in: Getting students and parents on board

If you are making the leap to standards-based grading this year, you might be wondering how to get students and parents to buy into the idea. Sometimes as teachers, our fear of having one of these situations:

stops us from trying something new. Real talk: switching to SBG is not going to be all unicorns and rainbows. Some students and parents will have a hard time understanding why are you making this change. It is 100% worth it. To help ease your transition, I have compiled some tips that have helped me get students and parents on board over the past few years (yes, I did learn some of these the hard way).

1. Do your research 

SBG is not for the faint of heart. If you are going to commit to it, make sure you know the ins and outs of your system and the reasoning behind it. You are going to have to defend what you are doing to administrators, parents and most importantly, your students. Make sure you know what you are talking about and you can answer any and all questions. Before I dove into my first year of SBG, I read A LOT of blogs. Just Google “standards-based grading” and you will find a wealth of information.

2. Get an administrator on your side

This tip is almost as important as the first one. You need an administrator on your side who both trusts your judgement and understands what you are doing. I have been very fortunate to have supportive administration throughout my implementation of SBG. Having administrative support will give you more confidence as you present this new system to students and parents. If a student or parent is having an especially hard time adjusting, you will know that someone has your back.

3. Always be positive

This one is the real difference maker when it comes to students. The switch to SBG directly affects the students. They are the ones you need to convince. The easiest way to do this is to stay positive. Yes, SBG is going to turn everything your students know about education upside down. They are going to feel really uncomfortable about it. It will be a hard adjustment. You do not need to tell your students these things, they already know them. Instead, tell students, “we are going to use a new grading system this year that I think you are really going to like. It really works in your favor!” Do this from day 1.

4. Don’t dump all the details on day 1

SBG is already overwhelming for students and parents, don’t add to it by dumping a ton of unnecessary details on them on day 1. Give students and parents the main paradigm shifts and an overview of the logistics. Tell your students “we are going to go through this whole thing together. After your first quiz, we will look at it and talk about what it means. I will make sure you understand what your grade means.” Just be reassuring and hold their hands through the process.

5. Keep it simple

This may not be universally agreed on by SBG enthusiasts, but I believe in keeping it simple, especially if it is your first year of SBG. There are a ton of different flavors of SBG. You can have tiered targets, you can do weighted averages, you can have power standards. These are all great and I have seen them work really well in an SBG framework but I think it is harder to get students and parents to buy into a system they do not understand. Pick a calculation method that is straight forward. I opt for median for the final learning target grade and then I average all the learning targets. If you do your research from tip 1, you should be able to come up with something that works for you!

Best of luck with your SBG endeavors. Remember, if you believe in it, everyone else will too!


One response to “The SBG buy in: Getting students and parents on board

  1. Thank you for this! I’m an experienced modeler taking the plunge into SBG for the first time. I’m the only one in my school testing the waters and I can’t wait to read your blog for suggestions and support!


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