Proficiency Scales for Rubric Scoring


A proficiency scale is a set of descriptions of what you can do in a concept or skill. Each level in the scale describes a stage in your development of competence. This process helps teachers achieve a deeper understanding of the learning targets and develop consistent expectations for student mastery of the targets.


Proficiency scales are beneficial when

  • setting target learning goals, or
  • evaluating your progress.

Proficiency scales are useful in the following ways:

  • to decide what to aim for
  • to know when you achieve your goals.

Examples of Rubric Scoring Using Proficiency Scales

Scoring Assessments Using the Scale


1. Mr. Swanson has set up an activity that allows the students in his physical

education class to demonstrate their ability to balance themselves. Some parts

of the activity ask students to demonstrate the simpler aspects of the goal

(score 2.0 content), such as approaching the balancing activity slowly and with

a firm foundation. Other parts of the activity ask students to demonstrate target

behaviors, such as walking on a balance beam (score 3.0 content), and some

parts of the activity ask students to demonstrate behaviors above and beyond

the target learning goal, such as throwing a ball to a partner while balancing or

catching themselves when they begin to fall (score 4.0 content). Bonnie exhibits

ability in the simpler balance activities and has some success at the target

balance activities.

Since Bonnie has exhibited mastery of the simpler elements, she has achieved

at least a score 2.0. Since she has not performed all of the elements designed for

the target learning goal, she has not yet achieved a score 3.0. Because she did

perform some of the elements, though, her score would be a 2.5.


2. For a learning goal regarding speaking fluency, Mrs. Jass has assigned the

students in her French class a brief oral report on the topic of food. Students

must use some basic vocabulary words relevant to the topic (score 2.0 content).

They must also use complete sentences to discuss how the meal habits of the

French are different from the meal habits in the United States (score 3.0 content).

Finally, Mrs. Jass asks them to offer a few sentences about which food culture

(French or American) they prefer and why (score 4.0 content). Ida exhibits the

ability to pronounce the relevant vocabulary words provided and the ability to

speak in simple sentences about the topic clearly and fluently. Though she does

not have a strong opinion on the topic, she clearly expresses the advantages of

each culture.

Because Ida demonstrated fluency with the required vocabulary words, her

score is at least a 2.0. Additionally, she has clearly put together the sentences

the score 3.0 content asks for. Finally, she has demonstrated the fluency required

for score 4.0. She did not have a strong opinion, but since the goal focuses on

fluency, this does not factor into the score.


3. Mr. Gage has assigned a short language arts paper that will allow him to assess

the students on a learning goal regarding the use of research in a persuasive

composition. In the directions, he has provided a topic and asked the students

to take one of two possible positions. In order to persuade the audience, he has

asked them to find two valid research sources (score 2.0 content). He has also

asked them to use direct quotations from those sources to support their chosen

positions (score 3.0 content). Finally, he has asked that they address any possible

counterclaims they see as relevant (score 4.0 content). Caroline’s assignment

demonstrates that she has found two valid sources of support for her chosen

position; however, while the composition mentions both of those sources, it does

not directly quote either, and no counterclaim is addressed.

Caroline has clearly not demonstrated proficiency at the score 4.0 content,

and while she mentions the sources in the paper, a score of 3.0 requires direct

quotations, so she has not demonstrated even partial score 3.0 proficiency either.

She did, however, find two valid research resources, which indicates a score

of 2.0.

4. Ms. Satrom has noticed that Jasper did not do well on a particular mathematics

test. The test asked the students to read a word problem and translate it into a

mathematical equation (score 2.0 content), solve the equation (score 3.0 content),

and compare the final answer to the original word problem to see if the answer

makes sense (score 4.0 content). She calls Jasper in for an individual meeting

and goes through one of the problems with him. While he was not able to solve

the problem on his own, he is able to create a mathematical equation and solve it

with some guidance and prompting from Ms. Satrom.

Because Jasper was not able to demonstrate mastery of any of the content on his

own, his score is below 1.5. With help, though, he was able to demonstrate ability

with the score 2.0 content and score 3.0 content. Therefore, his score is 1.0.


5. Mr. Kitchens has created a role-play activity to assess his social studies students’

knowledge about American presidents. He has provided directions for the role

play, giving students three presidents from which to choose. After choosing one

president, the students must create a scene that delivers personal facts about

the president and the time in which he was in office (score 2.0 content). Students

must also depict the president making one of his most influential choices (score

3.0 content). Finally, the scene must depict the president considering making

a choice different from the one he made (score 4.0 content). Sally delivers the

relevant information about the president she chose but depicts his character

making a choice only the current president has encountered—not a choice her

selected president had to make. She does not depict any other choices that the

selected president could have made.

Sally did not attempt the score 4.0 content and did not demonstrate mastery of

the score 3.0 content at all. Since she did deliver correct facts about her chosen

president, her score is 2.0.



Retrieved from: Formative Assessment and Standards-Based Grading 2010 Marzano Research Laboratory • marzanoresearch.com

2010 Marzano Research Laboratory • marzanoresearch.com

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