Dealing with the fear of being a boring teacher.

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SBGradeBook: And the Beast Was Felled

Think of this as my free gift to the SBG (#sbar) community to help put my money where my mouth is.

Oh, bright, shining day. Oh, glorious rapture beyond that ever known in the land of Assessia. Today is the day that the SBGradeBook v1.0 is released for your use this fall. No limits on numbers of accounts, and no time restraints. Just feel free to use it and drop me an email, if (read: when) something breaks:

The instruction manual is at the end of this post.


If so, sorry, here come my apologies: The summer is only so long, and I am only one man who has been imbued with certainly not the highest programming ability. Think of this as my free gift to the SBG (#sbar) community to help put my money where my mouth is.

I have designed exactly what I wanted. The problem with that is it pretty much guarantees to be not exactly what you wanted. For instance, I mostly wanted a logbook, while some of you want a more advanced reporting system. The SBGradeBook reports to parents and students (Soon it will email them on a schedule!), but it’s not as crazy as some of you asked for. Sorry.

This is Just the Beginning: Enter Riley Lark

There are much, much smarter people than myself working on larger solutions: Riley Lark is lurking in the wings, and I have a feeling that will be only a meager appetizer compared to his entree.

Also, there is fantastic work being done at and also by GlobalScholar (Holla’ Marzano).

Usage Notes:

  • I am using secure servers that are backed up regularly; data fidelity should not be a problem (fingers crossed)
  • The servers I have migrated to are 100% wind powered!
  • Everything is FERPA-ed to the max. Unless you actually start handing out passwords, no one but you, myself, and my hosting staff can access your students’ scores, and we’re all bound by FERPA, I promise!
  • The SBGradeBook is free to use, for at least this school year. I have no idea where this project will lead, but I hope to always be able to provide a free usage option. Why? I hate traditional summative-obsessed grading more than an electron hates being pigeon-holed as a particle.
  • Finally, I will be constantly updating the application, so do not be surprised when new — and amazing — features randomly show up!

Features on the Development Queue:

  • Exporting to .csv, .xls, .txt, and .html files (in the interim: cut and paste is better than you’d think)
  • Destroying classes (I just want people to get set up before we start killing things!)
  • Plenty of other tweaks


I sort of can’t believe how far this has come. It’s a real testament to the culture that the Internet can help create. I started by journey into assessment reform in May of 2009, and now here we are.

Thanks for the interest in helping your students learn better. I firmly believe that assessment practice has a lot to do with the demeanor of a classroom, and if this helps you, then that’s all I can ask for.

Instruction Manual:

You probably don’t need to read this. Just poke around, and don’t worry about wasting space. By the time school starts there will be more advanced deletion controls.

Where to begin? First create an account. This is the standard, get a user name, type and retype your password, give a valid email address, agree to the disclaimer, and type the wavy word!

If everything is kosher, you’ll be sent an email and asked to log in. Do so, and you should be greeted by this spartan screen:

A word about the window system: depending on your browser, the windows will be handled in any number of ways. Every browser, except for IE, works. I tested on Gecko and Webkit, but just to be safe, hit the “[x]” in the window before opening a new one, to avoid freezes. If a freeze happens, just refresh the page.

Create a Course:

Click on “Edit Courses” and add a course. This window will be your main course management screen, it allows you to add courses, students, change scoring methods, and upload .csv files of many students.

Now you can add students to your course using the Edit Courses window. You can do this one-by-one, or upload a list. Instructions appear in the window.

You must also select the way that your course’s final grades are computed. Average and Mode are just that, but Conjunctive is a Marzano thing and is championed by the unflappable Jason Buell. Basically, a student’s score is based more on their lowest grade rather than their highest. Works best with a 4-point system. Remember, averaging here isn’t all bad. You have to destroy some information to report out a final grade; #thenatureofthebeast.

Create a Standard:

You’ll also want to add standards to your classes. Within the SBG framework these are the only things that receive grades and they will go across creating the columns of your grade book. Click “Add Standard” and fill out all of the information. Select the courses you’d like this standard to belong to, and you should be off and running. There’s no copy feature, sorry, so create all of your classes first.

You may choose the way that this standard is reported. Most Recent, Mean, and Mode. Hopefully those are obvious to you, but just a reminder that Most Recent is by date. Assessments happening on the same date are allowed, but highly discouraged for Most Recent purposes. Averaging rears it’s ugly head, I’ll explain myself in a second.

Everyone Taking An Assessment?

If you are giving an assessment to your entire class, you may add an assessment to each student’s log by clicking — surprise! — “Add Assessment.” You can give the assessment a name, max score (makes the most sense to use the score that the standard itself is out of, but hey, you can do what you want), make sure you have the date right or Most Recent will vomit.

Individual Reassessment?

This is the bread and butter of the SBGradeBook, independent reporting of student assessment. Click on the students score for any standard, I dare you.

See the pink box? Just put their one-shot reassessment in here, and SBGradeBook does it’s magic. Are you using Most Recent? GETTHEDATERIGHT! Are you using averaging? Shame on you, but I’ve left it as an option for comparative reasons only. (read: laugh at your former self).

There’s more to discover, but I won’t belabor the details. Just click on whatever and it will probably generate a window.


I hope you find my summer of toil useful. This represents about a month of coding, and my goal is to pilot it for this whole school year. If your feature did not make the grade book, it is either in production or being left up to someone that knows more than me. Most notably, an assessment generator plugin is going to take a while and I think I found someone awesome already making a fantastic one.

Have a good year! And may the school year bring us a bounty of more lesson-based practical blogging and slightly less of this glut of philosophical gyration.

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25 thoughts on “SBGradeBook: And the Beast Was Felled
  • Kurt Schmidt says:

    As I attempt to convince my colleagues that SB Grades is a true paradigm shift, I am finding that the use of SBGradebook is rather onerous when it comes to entering data… especially an activity that may contain a few different expectations. Am I missing something that allows me to enter an entire class relatively quickly? The import roster seems to be only for initial setup, I am assuming. I truly appreciate the work that has gone into this project thus far and am thankful for your willingness to share your efforts as well as your journey!

  • Sarah Millard says:

    First off THANKS!!!! I’m so excited to use this and finally really and fully implement SBG in my classroom.

    Second, and this is just an idea that I’ve come up with. Is there a way of making an Objective and then underneath that making a standard? I’m asking because of the way the Texas skills are written out and because a co-worker asked when I showed them this. I’m so excited to play with this and use it!

  • dschreiber says:

    I’m liking a lot so far. Just a couple of issues (don’t know if they’re known bugs or not). I can’t see the entire standard in the column heading from the main class page. When I click on any standard other than the first, I don’t get a window with that allows me to see standard details (this happens on the student and teacher login). Thanks for all the hard work.

  • Della says:

    THANK YOU!!! I was desperate for exactly this! My grade level is going to standards-based this year, and the software provided by the county doesn’t make any sense to me.

    I think Rachel had a similiar problem. I haven’t received an email – checked the spam and junk. So, I just logged in. I tried “edit course.” I named it, and it did say the course was added, but then it’s not in the pull down menu. I’m using it on Mozilla Foxfire.

    Help? Did I “have” to get that first email?

  • Tim says:

    @LBRYAN … works fine on Google Chrome … easy download and install. I’m finding that lately I need 3 browsers to navagate the web. My bank’s site hiccups with one browser, some news sites won’t load with another … seems that by having firefox3, IE8, and Chrome at my disposal keeps me able to get more done. Hope this helps.

  • LBryan says:

    How can I access your amazing SBgrade book when I have Internet Explorer? The message stated that Internet Explorer was forbidden and the site requires another browser…is there any way of getting around this?

    • Shawn says:

      @LBryan: I’m sorry, but the technology that the SBGradeBook uses just isn’t supported by IE, yet. There’s not much I can do while we wait for Microsoft to catch up with the rest of the Internet, sorry.


  • Tim says:

    Hey Shawn, Thanks for working on this project. I’m poking around in my head for ways to make this SBG thing work for me. I’ve always flirted with it my entire career (16yrs and chuggin’ along) …
    One comment on functionality… when I tried to delete one entry … poof …. all 4 for the same standard went away … so editing is a problem.

    • Shawn says:

      Did they all have the same name? This happens most often when people are just testing things out and use the default input “Reassessment.” If the names are unique, as they would be during an actual school year, this does not happen. Thanks!


  • JNB says:

    I have really enjoyed your blog. I’ve been reading it in its entirety almost all summer. I already had decided to go to SBG before last school year ended, but I really didn’t know how to do it. I’m still struggling with some issues. As a world language teacher, I found the issues with my subject matter almost non-existent in the web, so I started my own blog called The Standard Induction over at wordpress, and while I am no means an expert, I hope it will help me process my ideas and help people in my field make an easier transition to SBG. Keep up with the great work on here. I will continue to read with much interest.

    • Shawn says:

      @joy and @JNB: No problem, I Just hope that everything goes smoothly. Feel free to email me if you encounter any bugs!


  • joy says:

    I really thank you for doing this. I am going to try it for at least one of my new classes. My school system has a required grade program, but I want to see how incorporating a more standards based grading style changes how I plan and teach and assess.

  • Sharon says:

    sorry, I’m not a programmer.
    Am I to understand that your “beast” is not a stand-alone program. It works within a browser (as long as not Microsofts?) Trying to understand before I download. thx

    • Shawn says:

      @Sharon: It’s a web app, so all you need is an Internet connection and any browser other than Internet Explorer. Just go to and it will do the rest.


  • Rachael says:

    Shawn: I must be doing something wonky. I never got an email, I can log in, but I can’t seem to add courses. I get this error when trying to add a standard (at the bottom when you would check the box for the course to add the standard to):
    Warning: mysql_fetch_array(): supplied argument is not a valid MySQL result resource in /hermes/web07/b2567/moo.scornally/SBGBook/getCoursesCheck.php on line 13

    Vertical would be nice.


    • Shawn says:

      @Rachel: You have to have classes created before anything else will work. If you aren’t receiving emails it’s probably because your email address was entered with an error or the emails are being caught and hidden by a spam filter. What username did you choose? I can check your account, or you can just create a new one and see if the issue persists. Thanks!


  • Mark Olson says:

    WoW … a summer release before the fall. Sounds like you have put a lot of effort into this system – kuddos to you and the sbar team :D

    Even though I will be using a different solution this fall – I take my hat off to you for providing so many educators with this free.99 goodness. Thank You!

  • Sharon says:

    Very thought provoking. Love the idea that the grades reflect learning rather than hoop-jumping in some cases. Now let’s see if I can get assessment and grading together within a month.

    What do you mean I can’t use IE?

    • Shawn says:

      @Sharon: IE = Internet Explorer. Or, if you’re being sarcastic, I just mean that IE can’t handle the AJAX and canvas technologies the way I want them to.


      • Shawn says:

        @All: Would you all prefer it if the standards text was vertical? Some of you have some lengthy standard titles already…=shawn

  • Ellena Bethea says:

    Looks good! Thanks for you hard work.

  • Ian H. says:

    Looks awesome! I will definitely be giving it a go in the fall!

  • Rachael says:

    Woot! Woot! Thank you!

  • Jason Buell says:

    Thanks for all the hard work Shawn. Now go get that radon out of your house!

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Karl Fisch, Matt Townsley. Matt Townsley said: SBGradeBook: 1.0 is ready! (coded by @thinkthankthunk) get your accts, #sbar tweeps [...]