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
Proficiency scales are useful in the following ways:
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
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
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
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