16 December 2014

Using Moodle for Standards Based Grading

Apparently some LMS out there is touting their ability to handle Standards Based Grading and some people were asking me about doing that in Moodle. Just to be clear, I don't actually have my courses set up for that so what I'm about to share is a demo version of what I would start with and some suggestions I have for those who wish to accomplish the task. So take what's useful and abandon the rest.

First, you'll want the site admin to enable Outcomes this is really at the heart of being able to achieve this practice. Then you have a few decisions to make. I'm guessing that other systems will pre-load things like Common Core standards or even standards for your state into your system, this method requires a little more DIY. Moodle does allow for a bulk upload of outcomes but it works a little differently than the files I've used for bulk user upload/enrollments.

Technical side note: the way I made it work was to upload my outcomes to a spreadsheet in LibreOffice and when I went to save it as a CSV file I selected Edit Filter Settings and set Character to Unicode (UTF-8), the Field delimiter as a semicolon and the Text delimiter as a quotation mark. I mention this because previously for uploading CSV files to Moodle I just used a Google Sheets template and downloaded CSV. This one didn't work the same way and this was how I made the upload work.

I mentioned a choice to make...You'll have to decide if you want your outcomes to be made available site wide or just in the course itself. That's likely a discussion for your curriculum directors or department chairs. I would probably make the CSV file available for that subject area to those teachers so they can upload them to their own courses and select the ones that are applicable. I mention this because making all subject area benchmarks available site wide could be messy if there is a lot of scrolling. I would also suggest sharing those templates across districts so others don't have to duplicate the work of putting all of the standards together.

Second, in the Moodle gradebook I would create a category for particular standards clusters. For instance, in English/Language Arts the first three benchmarks fall into the category Key Ideas & Details. I created a category in my course called, Key Ideas & Details. In the assignment settings for all of the summative assignments that measure student mastery of that area I can tag each outcome that I uploaded to the site.

Third, when grading the summative assessments you can assign a value not just to the overall assignment using a scale or points, but also to the individual standards being assessed. First you have to go into your assignment settings and select which outcomes you want to measure in the assessment. Since this is an example, I've only uploaded three and not all of the ELA Standards addressed in the course.

Once you save those assignment settings you will see a separate item in your gradebook for each benchmark. Since all of these are from the same cluster I moved them all into the Key Ideas & Details category.

Some other decisions will have to be made about what should appear in the aggregation for course totals and what items should be visible to students. If it were my course I would probably have all formative assessments visible to students but have the grades weighted as zero. I might also only set each benchmark to appear in the course once for my SBG documentation, otherwise things could get long, but you can minimize categories in the gradebook view.

At this point, I think I just might be scratching the surface for what is possible here and I would welcome the chance to discuss this in further detail with an expert in Standards Based Grading. My biggest objective with this post is to assure people that it is indeed possible using Moodle. It is and you have options.

Here is a sample of the spreadsheet I used to create my CSV file:

outcome_name outcome_shortname outcome_description scale_name scale_items scale_description
ELA ELA Key Ideas and Details 1 Letter Scale F, C, B, A F=Does not meet, C=Approaching, B=Meets, A=Exceeds
ELA ELA Key Ideas and Details 2 Letter Scale F, C, B, A F=Does not meet, C=Approaching, B=Meets, A=Exceeds
ELA ELA Key Ideas and Details 3 Letter Scale F, C, B, A F=Does not meet, C=Approaching, B=Meets, A=Exceeds

There may be better ways to create/label the standards. I'm just getting started with all of this...