Great Schools Partnership

Verifying Proficiency: Scoring Criteria

Scoring Criteria: Overview

Scoring criteria describe the quality of evidence at different levels of achievement for each performance indicator. Common scoring criteria are an essential component of a proficiency-based system of learning, designed to promote equitable, challenging, and personalized outcomes for all students. There are four traits of effective scoring criteria:

Trait 1: Scoring criteria articulate a clear progression of learning.

Trait 2: Scoring criteria describe the quality of student work at each performance level.

Trait 3: Scoring criteria describe affirmatively what students can do at each level of performance.

Trait 4: Scoring criteria are task neutral; they can be applied to a variety of learning experiences and products.

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The Value of Scoring Criteria

  • Common scoring criteria establish a clear definition of achievement of the essential skills and knowledge defined in performance indicators that is shared by teachers, students, and families. By providing descriptions of different levels of performance, common scoring criteria promote consistent expectations.
  • Scoring criteria can be used to evaluate a wide range of possible tasks and assessments while maintaining high expectations for all students. In this way, common scoring criteria support the design of assessments aligned with both the competencies and IEP or language learner accommodations.
  • Through collaborative use of scoring criteria, teachers calibrate their expectations about evidence of proficiency. This common understanding further promotes consistency of scoring across teachers,  improving the reliability of assessments.
  • Scoring criteria are used to create rubrics for a range of specific assessment tasks. This practice promotes consistency and clarity of expectations as well as the transfer of skills across topics and content areas.
  • Scoring criteria help students understand the specific knowledge and skills they must demonstrate to reach or exceed proficiency. These descriptions can be used to promote reflection and growth and to provide specific, actionable feedback, leading to increased student ownership and deeper levels of learning.
  • Teachers can use the data and information from consistent use of scoring criteria to determine appropriate supports and extensions for a class or individual learners. This promotes equitable outcomes by meeting the needs of all students, including those on IEPs and language learners.

Traits and Guidelines

Trait 1
Scoring criteria articulate a clear progression of learning.

Do This Avoid This
  • Align to a taxonomy of thinking skills (Webb’s, Bloom’s, etc.) consistently.
  • Describe a logical sequence of increasingly challenging thinking skills, often on a 4-point scale, aligned with the performance indicator and taxonomy.
  • Show progression through a change in the cognitive demand of verbs at each proficiency level (see Example 1A) or in the depth and detail to which a student completes a task of similar cognitive demand (see Example 1B).
  • Progressions that result solely in more or longer work products by applying the same skill repeatedly.
  • Progressions that don’t describe distinguished work.
  • Progressions with large leaps in thinking skills between levels of performance (e.g., requiring description at the developing level and evaluation at the proficient level).
  • Writing criteria for the highest performance level in a way that equates to perfection or 100% accomplishment.
  • Using assessments that limit any student’s opportunities to demonstrate the highest performance level.

 

Example 1A
Level: High School
Content Area: Math

Performance Indicator Emerging Developing Proficient Distinguished

Use geometric shapes and their properties to model physical objects.

I can identify geometric shapes (e.g., triangles, quadrilaterals, and other polygons). can describe geometric shapes and their basic properties.

I can describe geometric shapes and their basic properties.

I can model physical objects using geometric shapes.

I can evaluate the quality of models representing physical objects.

 

 

 

Example 1B
Level: Elementary
Content Area: Cross Curricular (Problem Solving)

Performance Indicator Emerging Developing Proficient Distinguished

Generate solutions to problems.

I can identify a possible solution to the problem.

I can identify a solution to the problem based on collected data.

I can generate a workable solution that addresses the given problem using collected data.

I can generate a variety of workable solutions to a problem using collected data.

Trait 2
Scoring criteria describe the quality of student work at each performance level.

Do This Avoid This
  • Use precise, specific language and objective descriptions of the evidence students produce at each proficiency level which can be more consistently evaluated by different individuals (see Example 2A).
  • For proficient and distinguished descriptions, include all elements of the performance indicator (see Example 2B).
  • Include specific, technical expectations (number of pages, number of sources, types of graphs, etc.) in a supplemental checklist or assignment requirements rather than in scoring criteria. Use these elements of an assignment to determine if it is complete or to inform habits of work assessments and feedback.
  • Using the number (e.g., “I can include 3–5 [elements]”) or frequency (e.g. “rarely,” “sometimes,” or “always”) of an element of performance.
  • Vague descriptors (e.g., poor, excellent, high-quality, visually appealing). These are difficult to evaluate consistently and don’t clarify expectations.

Example 2A
Level: Middle/High School
Content Area: World Language

Performance Indicator Emerging Developing Proficient Distinguished

Language Control:
Apply knowledge of grammar and vocabulary to communicate ideas.

I can use familiar words accurately in isolation.

I can use familiar language accurately in phrases.

I can select and use words, order words, and spell/pronounce words accurately in simple sentences on familiar topics.

I can select and use words, order words, and spell/ pronounce words accurately in complex sentences on familiar and concrete topics.

Example 2B
Level: High School
Content Area: English Language Arts

Performance Indicator Emerging Developing Proficient Distinguished

Organize writing in a way that is appropriate to purpose and audience.

I can include ideas in a piece of writing.

I can apply a formulaic progression of ideas related to a purpose.

I can develop a clear and coherent progression of ideas, using syntax and transitions appropriate to purpose and audience.

I can create a complex progression of ideas, using varied syntax and transitions to achieve my purpose and reach my audience.

Trait 3
Scoring criteria describe affirmatively what students can do at each level of performance.

Do This Avoid This
  • Write scoring criteria from the student’s point of view. Starting with “I can…” or “Students can…” helps to reinforce this idea (see Example 3A).
  • Use positive, specific language and an asset-based approach that focuses on what students can do to foster continual improvement (see Example 3B).
  • Deficit-based descriptions and framing or statements that articulate undesirable learning outcomes (e.g., “I cannot [do something]”).
  • Negative language that may reinforce unhelpful mindsets and emphasize learning deficits  (e.g., “weak use [of something]”).

Example 3A
Level: High School
Content Area: Health

Performance Indicator Emerging Developing Proficient Distinguished

Evaluate a variety of behaviors to prevent or reduce health risks to self and others.

I can state a variety of behaviors to prevent or reduce health risks.

I can describe various behaviors and how they prevent or reduce health risks.

I can evaluate a variety of behaviors that prevent or reduce health risks.

I can evaluate a variety of behaviors that prevent or reduce health risks in relation to context.

Example 3B
Level: High School
Content Area: Transferable Skills (Creative & Practical Problem Solving)

Performance Indicator Emerging Developing Proficient Distinguished

Observe and evaluate situations in order to define problems.

I can make observations about a situation.

I can identify variables and the relationships among them that influence a situation.

I can define a problem and identify constraints based on my observation and evaluation of the relationship between variables.

I can analyze a problem in order to determine its significance and relevance.

Trait 4
Scoring criteria are task neutral; they can be applied to a variety of learning experiences and products.

Do This Avoid This
  • Write scoring criteria for each performance indicator and use them to assess a variety of learning experiences or products (see Examples 4A and 4B).
  • Create rubrics for any assessment or assignment by combining scoring criteria for the relevant performance indicators.
  • Scoring criteria that apply only to specific lessons, units, courses, projects, or assignments. (e.g., “I can write a report that evaluates risk factors and prevention strategies related to smoking.”)

Example 4A
Level: Middle School
Content Area: Social Studies

Performance Indicator Emerging Developing Proficient Distinguished

Analyze regions of the Earth, their physical features, and political boundaries using a variety of geographic tools.

I can locate regions of the Earth, their physical features, and political boundaries.

I can describe regions of the Earth, their physical features, and political boundaries.

I can analyze regions of the Earth, their physical features, and political boundaries using a variety of geographic tools.

I can evaluate connections among the physical features, and political boundaries of regions of the Earth using a variety of geographic tools.

Example 4B
Level: Elementary
Content Area: Visual Art

Performance Indicator Emerging Developing Proficient Distinguished

Apply tools and techniques of specific art-making forms to create intended imagery.

I can use art-making tools.

I can use tools and techniques to create artistic products.

I can select tools and apply techniques to my artistic products to create imagery.

I can create imagery to convey a message through combining techniques in artistic products.

Resources

Scoring Criteria: Overview (.pdf)
Scoring Criteria: Design Guide (.pdf)
Scoring Criteria: Frequently Asked Questions (.pdf)
Scoring Criteria: Evidence and Readings (.pdf)
Framework for Proficiency-Based Learning (.pdf)
Learning and Assessment Pathways (.pdf)

 

Creative Commons License 2018. This work by Great Schools Partnership is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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