Standards based reporting

If your school is like ours, then you may be using standards-based reporting as a way of communicating with parents.  In our school, we also have our grade books online.  Our grade books are also organized by standards.  It is often a question as to what is the most appropriate way to merge IB assessment with the demands of standards-based reporting.  Below I will explain how we do it in our school and how I have adapted my IB marking.

By no means is this the "only" way to set up your school's grade book, but I hope that it will serve as an inspiration if you are movie to standards-based assessment and reporting.


Our social science department has four relatively straight-forward standards:

  • Investigates social science questions
  • Applies critical thinking with regard to social science research
  • Demonstrates conceptual understanding that is relevant to the social sciences.
  • Communicates effectively

In our grade books, we list the standards as: Research, critical thinking, conceptual understanding, and communication.

Even though this is not how the IB specifically assesses students, we have found that is a very good framework for providing feedback to students. When looking at the overall work in psychology, I can say to students (or to parents) that they are showing strong conceptual understanding, but struggling with critical thinking.  We also give a 1 - 7 grade for each standard.  It is not uncommon, especially in year 1, to have students whose feedback looks like this:

  • Research: 5
  • Conceptual understanding: 6
  • Critical thinking: 4
  • Communication: 6

Rather than receiving a grade of "5" which does not really communicate very much to students about their overall performance, standards-based assessment communicates to students their performance on the skills which we are hoping to develop in the course.  It also enables them to set their own goals for future academic development.

How to apply these standards in an IB course is explained below.

Standard 1. Research

As the IA is such an important part of the final IB grade, I use this standard solely for assessments that are linked to the internal assessment.  This includes mock IAs as well as write-ups that we do for class experiments. In the first year of the course, I tend to have 5 - 6 assessments for this standard - giving me a fairly good prediction of how students will do on their IA, which we do in the fall of the second year.

    Standard 2. Conceptual understanding

    There is a lot of conceptual understanding required in the course.  Under this standard, I assess all SAQs, content-based quizzes and use of evidence when we have debates or Socratic seminars.

    When looking at how to include SAQs in my grade book, I use the following conversion.

    When it comes to the ERQs (essays), there are two criteria that assess conceptual understanding - criteria B and C.  B focuses on concepts and theories, whereas C looks at understanding of research studies. For each essay, I do not give a cumulative IB grade until year 2.  In year 1 I really want the focus to be on the standard.  In order to convert the marks from points to 1 - 7, I use the following table.

    Please note that each criterion is worth 6 marks, for a total of 12.

    Standard 3. Critical thinking

    There are several assessments that I put under critical thinking.  This includes quizzes where I ask them to evaluate a study they have not seen before, critical thinking during a debate or Socratic seminar, an IB essay or a Paper 3.

    When giving marks for critical thinking on an IB essay, criterion D has a total of 6 marks.  I convert it for the grade book using the following conversion table.

    It could be argued that Paper 3 is not solely focused on critical thinking and that perhaps this would be better under standard 1 or 2.  This is a choice that teachers have to make.  I put it under critical thinking and I use the grade boundaries from the IB. Although the grade boundaries may vary from session to session, I use the M19 boundaries for all Paper 3s that I have designed myself.

    Standard 4. Communication

    The final standard is where I assess students' ability to communicate effectively.  Assessments include reflections, summaries, presentations, and ERQs.

    When students write essays, the IB rubric assesses communication in both criteria A (focus) and E (structure). Each criterion is worth 2 marks, for a total of 4.  This makes giving an IB score rather tricky.  I use the following table.  Obviously, when looking at a student's overall performance I could determine that they are working at a level 5.

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