How I use Standards-Based Grading with Open Up Resources/Illustrative Mathematics

My school switched to SBG this year and we’ve been tasked with creating our own learning targets and rubrics. This is a change I’ve been wanting for years, so I’ve been excited to dive in. Each standard gets broken down into one or more learning targets; each learning target gets a rubric. The learning targets need to have enough scope to be used throughout a unit across multiple lessons as well as a narrow-enough focus to allow for specificity at each stage of the rubric. I like the system that I’ve come up with so far, but it is still a work in progress.

Creating the Learning Targets and Rubrics

I want to make sure the rubrics mirror the learning progression presented in the curriculum. This means, I’ve relied heavily on the unit narrative, the lesson learning targets, the cool downs, and the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Using the Rubrics

#1. I introduce each learning target to kids as we get to it in the curriculum. (I use Morgan Stipe’s slides posted on as the base for most of my lessons.)

#2. I remind kids of the learning targets during the Lesson Syntheses and clarify which part of the rubric we are working on.

#3. I include the learning target on each Cool Down and use it to grade their work.

#4. I reference it again when I return their graded Cool Downs.

#5. I rearrange the mid-unit and end-of-unit tests to match the rubrics. Sometimes I’ve had to remove or add questions:

Current Rubrics

These are very much a work in progress, but have been functional thus far.

Level 1 is the lowest students can get. Level 2 is approaching standards. Level 3 is meeting standards. Level 4 is supposed to be exceeding standards. I want to make sure students have the opportunity to earn a Level 4 either on projects and/or the end-of unit tests.

6th Grade:

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

7th Grade:

Unit 2

Unit 3

8th Grade:

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Questions/comments/suggestions are always welcome!


    • I love what you’ve created so far! Have you created rubrics for any of the other units? I’d be happy to assist in working on those throughout the year. I definitely want to use these all year and you’ve given me a great start. Thank you!

    • If you sign up on site as a teacher, you will see that each lesson has a section called “community created resources” – and they are all listed there – one per lesson.

  1. […] Appreciations and disclaimers: I’ve been developing these rubrics over the past year and a half – mostly on the weekends! – relying on the learning progressions and assessments in the Illustrative Mathematics curriculum and lots of assistance from fellow teachers in the Open Up Resources facebook groups. These are very much a work in progress & certainly need revision and refinement. You can read more about my thinking behind these rubrics and how I use them with students here. […]

  2. […] These will forever be a work in progress as I gain a deeper understanding of the standards and how kids develop their understanding of these skills and concepts. The linked google docs include a description of which cool downs best align with the rubrics. Read more about my process for developing and using these here. […]

  3. I am assuming MU stands for mid-unit, however I am not sure what the numbers stand for. Are these the specific numbers on one MU quiz that represent the learning target/standard being assessed, or do the numbers represent multiple mid-units for students to complete to show their understanding? Also, do you have MU created & aligned for 8th grade? Thanks!

    • Those numbers are the questions from the IM tests that align with that level on rubric. I’ve written a newer blog post with more 8th grade rubrics.

Always happy to hear from readers!