A good template for creating proficiency scales.

I made this graphic for my last post about Adobe Spark:


It’s something I said in a video I was making about standards-based learning and grading, and it came easily to mind when I was trying to create an example of a Post in Adobe Spark.

And I believe it wholeheartedly.

It’s a tough transition, though, for teachers to make…that shift from totaling up points and documenting deficiencies and having the total number of points determine a letter grade that may or may not indicate learning to one where learning is the focus, and progress towards learning specific targets is what is measured, analyzed, and reported.

But how do you report progress instead of points?  Usually, it’s reported using a proficiency scale.

I recently talked about differentiation with our high school staff, and I developed proficiency scales for the learning targets I wanted to accomplish.  For example, one learning target I had for the session was this:

I can collect and use data to differentiate instruction according to student proficiency.

Here’s the proficiency scale I developed to have teachers self-assess that target, with the third level indicating proficiency and the fourth level describing a more advanced understanding:


I modeled proficiency scales for two reasons: first, I would like teachers to get more used to looking at learning rather than the number correct.  I think developing proficiency scales are great for getting teachers to reflect on what it really takes for students to learn something, and stops the assumption that students can just learn it if a lecture takes place.  Also, I modeled it because in order to really differentiate, you have to know where your students are at in the learning progression in order to design activities that will help them master the learning target.

I’m used to proficiency scales looking like the ones above; however, as I was traipsing through my Google Drive the other day, I found a document I had saved quite some time ago that contained a proficiency scale set-up I am currently in heavy like with.  (Just like with my question chart, I got this off the internet so long ago that I can only credit an awesome random internet person with this work at this point (again, thank you internet person for posting this!)


The reason I like this better is that the general level descriptions and the individual I can statements for each level are side-by-side.  If I had done this when I first started making proficiency scales, I would have most likely produced scales that were clearer for students.  I also love how the I can statements are leveled according to the general level description criteria and aren’t just generic “with help/without help” statements that I find irritating about Marzano’s scales.

If you’re just getting started in measuring student progress by creating proficiency scales (and giving students a helpful tool for feedback on their learning as an extra special added bonus), I would suggest using the example above – it will help keep your focus on what each level should contain based on the level descriptions, and help you reframe your thinking in terms of learning rather than how much effort gets how many points.


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