Dealing with the fear of being a boring teacher.


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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Shawn Cornally • July 27, 2010

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