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Evaluation Tools

Evaluation Tools

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, you will learn about the various types of evaluation tools that are used in CBE.

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In this tutorial, we'll discuss several different types of evaluation tools that you might use as you implement competency-based education. We'll look at checklists, proficiency scales, and rubrics. All of these different types of evaluation tools are going to support your use of assessment in competency-based education by providing multiple ways for students to demonstrate their proficiency in the various competencies that they're working towards.

In general terms, rubrics and different types of scales are used to measure students' progress against a predetermined standard. So applying this idea in the context of competency-based education, scales and rubrics are going to be used to measure students' progress towards the mastery of a particular competency.

It's important to note that the teacher may be performing the evaluations, but students may be self evaluating as well. And this is a more common practice with older students than it is with younger students. So let's look at each of these different types of evaluation tools, starting with checklists.

A checklist is a simple list of behaviors, tasks, skills, or conceptual understandings. The teacher simply uses the list to check off or mark whether students are exhibiting each of the listed elements. So if an element is checked off, that means the student has demonstrated that particular skill. And if the item is not checked off, that means that the particular skill has not been demonstrated yet.

So all a checklist does is it measures or demonstrates only whether a competency or skill has been demonstrated. It does not measure the quality of the demonstration or the degree to which the student has learned or mastered the particular skill. Because checklists are very broadly based, and because they don't measure the quality of the learning but only the completion of the various competencies, checklists are best suited just for indicating the presence or absence of simple and straightforward competencies.

So here's an example of a checklist that I have used with my students. The purpose of this checklist was to help students make sure that they had completed every necessary element in a project before handing that project in to me to be graded using a rubric.

So note that each element on this checklist just outlines one very specific item that students need to have completed before they can consider their project to be finished. Again, this checklist is one that I provided to the students so that they could do a self-assessment here and make sure that they had met all the criteria of the project before turning it in to be graded. Next, let's talk about proficiency scales.

A proficiency scale is a tool that assesses the degree to which a behavior, a skill, a task, or a conceptual understanding has been achieved. So a proficiency scale is like a checklist in that it's used to measure student mastery, but whereas, a checklist simply records yes or no. The skill has or has not been demonstrated. A proficiency scale can provide us with more information because it also incorporates that degree of mastery.

So a proficiency scale includes just one, single behavior, skill, task, or understanding, and then it includes a scale that indicates or outlines those varying levels of mastery or achievement. So these varying levels of mastery might be labeled by either words or numbers. For example, you might use a scale that goes from weak to strong, from novice to proficient, from never to always, or even from strongly disagree to strongly agree.

So here is an example of a proficiency scale that I might use in evaluating one aspect of the project for which you just saw the checklist. In that project, students are designing a circular theater with a minimum seating capacity. So this proficiency scale records whether students have achieved a level of mastery from novice all the way to exemplary within the particular realm of meeting the seating criteria for that theater.

So whereas an element on the previous checklist was just to note whether or not the theater had met the minimum seating capacity, here we can see the different degrees of proficiency that students might demonstrate along that scale.

Finally, let's talk about rubrics. A rubric is a more robust evaluation tool that can include multiple criteria. And the rubric that includes descriptions and varying levels of achievement or proficiency for each of those criteria.

There are several different types of rubrics. An analytic rubric is usually in the form of a grid with the criteria for the student product listed in the left column. And then across the top row, the levels of performance are indicated, either using numbers or using, perhaps, descriptive tags or adjectives.

A developmental rubric is a special type of an analytic trait rubric. The main difference between a developmental rubric and other types of analytic rubrics is that a developmental rubric is not meant to evaluate an end product or performance. Instead, it is meant to measure progress along the path.

And finally, a holistic rubric consists of just a single scale. And all of the various criteria that are going to be looked at are included in the evaluation together. So for example, when evaluating a math project, you might consider the quality of the presentation itself, the accuracy of the calculations, and the completeness of students' work all together in one, single scale. So using a holistic rubric, the person doing the assessment assigns just a single score often on a numerical scale of 1 to 4 or 1 to 6, and this score is based on an overall judgment of the student's work.

So how do you know which of these tools is best suited for varying situations? Well, checklists are a great choice when you want to simply identify whether key tasks have been completed, or when you want to indicate whether basic skills have been demonstrated by your students. A checklist is a great tool to use in the beginning process of an assessment, as it can help you to get a broad overall sense of your students' various skill areas and skill levels. And that can help you make decisions about how to proceed.

A proficiency scale is a great option when you want to track changes in students' mastery of skills. Proficiency scales can help you monitor and evaluate students' progress on particular competencies. And proficiency scales are also a nice option for students who are doing self-assessments, because the proficiency scales find a nice balance between including the varying degrees of competency but not being overly complex. So they're still approachable by students.

Not only can students use proficiency scales to self assess, but teachers can also make good use of these proficiency scales to get a more in-depth, more detailed look at students' levels of proficiency. This not only helps us identify mastery levels, but it also helps us to pinpoint areas that students may need to spend more time working on.

And finally, a rubric is a great option when you are going to be evaluating student achievement using more complex criteria. A rubric is a nice option when you want to identify strengths and weaknesses within a specific competency. The purpose of using a rubric is not necessarily just evaluating an end-of-term assessment, but instead, you can use a rubric to help provide students with valuable feedback that they can use to improve their own learning and understanding. And again, teachers can use rubrics to help get more information about students particular strengths and weaknesses while focusing on a given competency.

In this tutorial, we discussed checklists, proficiency scales, and rubrics, which are various types of evaluation tools that you can use to support your use of assessment in your CBE classroom.

So here's a chance for you to stop and reflect. Do you currently use checklists, proficiency scales, or rubrics in your classroom? If not, perhaps you'd like to select just one of these types of tools to implement in an upcoming lesson. As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you may want to explore the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning and explore ways to apply your newly acquired skill set.

Thanks for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "Evaluation Tools"

(00:00 - 01:03) Introduction

(01:04 - 02:37) Checklists

(02:38 - 04:23) Proficiency Scales

(04:24 - 06:04) Rubrics

(06:05 - 08:09) Which Tool is Best?

(08:10 - 08:24) Review

(08:25 - 08:59) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

Designing & Implementing Scales

This page on the Palm Beach Schools website explains how and why to use a proficiency scale. The site includes a video on developing proficiency scales.

​Proficiency Scale Bank

Marzano Research Laboratory has developed numerous standards-based proficiency scales. With registration and log-in, these scales are free for teacher use.