How to Use Google Classroom for Standards-Based Grading

Have you ever been a part of a conversation like this one that has taken place in my house more than once:
14-year-old: “Mom, do we have any tissues I can bring to school?”
Me: “Why, are you getting a cold?”
14-year-old: “No, if I bring a box of tissues today I will get 10 points added to my test so I can get two wrong and still get a hundred.”
Cue that emoji with the really big eyes, exhibiting shock and horror. Don’t get me wrong…I believe in contributing to the community as a whole by sharing boxes of tissues and bottles of hand soap but that is not what makes this conversation so alarming. My own children are not the only ones who have alerted me to this type of assessment scoring…Students often ask to borrow a pencil so they don’t lose points on a quiz or run in to our classroom, breathless and begging to print out an essay so they aren’t docked a letter grade for turning it in late. The question remains: How does this type of scoring system tell us about a student’s progress toward learning standards??

Standards-based grading is not new and, at this point, we can’t deny that it is the most authentic way to determine student learning. (You can read lots more about this by viewing my Mastery-Based Learning Wakelet of resources on the topic.) So how can we use Google Classroom to effectively help students work towards mastery of standards? I have come up with a simple way to do that, while having a significant effect on students’ understanding of their own learning.
As you’ve probably heard, Google recently released a beta version of a gradebook for Google Classroom, something that many school districts and teachers have been hoping to see for a while. The beta version is admittedly simple…it is essentially a spreadsheet that draws data from the Classroom’s graded assignments and puts them into weighted assignment categories as specified by the teacher. (If you have not yet signed up for the beta and would like to, complete this form.) Every time Google releases a new product or product update, teachers inevitably say, Ok, it can do this but can it do THIS?? By nature, teachers are innovators and we want to know how tools and resources can most benefit our students. My first view of Google’s simple grade book design led me straight to thinking about how I could use it to support mastery-based learning and grading!
My system is built around 5 simple steps:

1. Create a Google Classroom specifically for your grade-level content standards and add the appropriate students.

Grade 7 Math Standards -

2. Create a topic for each content standard “bucket” (i.e. Strand, Content Focus, etc.)

Classwork for Grade 7 Assignments_ -

3. Create an assignment for each indicator under the appropriate topic. Choose a “grading scale” for each assignment. You may choose to grade each indicator on a “MET/NOT MET” scale, making each worth 1 point or create a scale that allows for students to “partially meet” a standard or be “approaching” mastery.

Classwork for Grade 7 Create_ -

4. Have students attach one or more pieces of evidence that they believe demonstrate their understanding of each standard. (For younger students, you can do this with them as part of your student/teacher conference.)

attach work_ -

5. Hold a progress conference with each student at an agreed upon time, using the Google Classroom and grade book as the basis for your discussion.

This system has tons of benefits for students and teachers!

  • It focuses assessment on progress toward the standards rather than arbitrary points unrelated to learning! This gives students and teachers a clear evidence of what students know and are able to do.
  • It encourages students to interact directly with learning standards and think deeply about their own learning! By attaching evidence of their progress toward each learning standard, students will gain a solid understanding of what the standard is asking and more insight into their own thinking about what they know and what they still need to learn to master the topic.
  • It creates a portfolio of learning evidence for each student! Students and teachers can proudly view a body of work that demonstrates progress and growth.
  • It creates a natural structure for student/teacher conferences! Focusing on the standards ensures that conferences stay on-track and related to learning goals.

If you plan to try (or are already) using Google Classroom for standards-based grading, I would love to hear your process and thoughts on how it impacts your students and classroom!

11 thoughts on “How to Use Google Classroom for Standards-Based Grading

Add yours

  1. I am so interested in using this process for my 6th grade Math students. Math isn’t always the easiest to submit evidence of each standard. I’m wondering what scaffolding I could put in place for students. Perhaps use a choice board to help students think of a way to show their mastery? I definitely want students to use technology, not just replace worksheets with technology. Any other ideas?


    1. This is a great question, Katie! Thank you for writing. When I did this with my high school freshman, I spent a good amount of time scaffolding the standards. We discussed what a standard is, looked at standards from different content areas, worked in small groups to re-write them in student-friendly terms and, finally, students worked together to brainstorm ways to demonstrate mastery of each standard. My partner is a 7th grade math teacher and he found that having them just submit work didn’t necessarily mean they KNEW that they met the standard (they may have just been guessing), so he started having them record themselves explaining how and why the assignment met the standard and had them upload the video. This system is definitely an ongoing work-in-progress!


  2. Laura this is great! Do you know of any high school social studies teachers that are using this for standards based grading in Government, U.S.History, or Economics?


  3. Any suggestions for a lower elementary teacher? I’m not sure making a class for every subject is a reasonable option. I can see how it would work well in a single-subject classroom, but I’m still trying to find a way to make standards-based grading work in Google Classroom with a multiple subject class.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am Studio Department chair and Ceramics teacher and I am looking to transition fully to standards-based grading this year. In a remote setting, students may not always have access to the same materials or processes as each other, but they can still find ways to demonstrate evidence of meeting standards. This is such a great way of structuring that and providing clarity for students around what they are learning. Do you know of any studio/art teachers that are using google classroom in this way? Also, what is your process for translating the different standards that students meet/partially meet to a final course grade?


    1. Hi Jack, I was a visual art teacher when I established the system but shortly thereafter became an educational technology coach so I didn’t use this for very long myself. When I did use it, my students loved that they could upload visual evidence for the standard and have a small conference with me around whether it met the standard or not because I gave them the opportunity to upload as many times as they needed. Before doing this, we spent a good amount of time breaking down with the standards we’re asking and students worked in small groups to come up with examples of what Meeting the standard might look like and what it wouldn’t look like. We didn’t have a formal rubric but, like I said, we would have an individual conference when they attached evidence of a standard. If they could convince me that it met the standard that was great. I have always struggled with traditional grading but I made that part of the mini conference. Students often graded themselves much harder than I might have.


  5. I apologize if you have already answered this, but is there a way to display multiple standards/grading categories on student Google Classroom work? I will give students an assignment with three standards-based rubrics (Evidence, Organization, and Conventions) on the actual assignment, but I cannot put three different grades on the grading area of Google Classroom. I have tried with / or . to separate them without luck. When I leave the grade blank, instead putting the grades in the Comment area, and return it, the work appears as Missing. When I make the assignment as Non-graded, I leave the grades in the comment bar, but work that I return to revise and resubmit still appears as Turned In. When my students see this, they do not give it a second thought as it says Turned In. Aaah! Please help me!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: