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Proficiency Scales and Rubrics

Proficiency Scales and Rubrics


In this lesson you will learn how to create a rubric and a proficiency scale aligned to content standards and ISTE Standards

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Source: Globe, Clker,; Stick Figure, Clker,

Video Transcription

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Hi there, everyone, and welcome. I hope you're doing well today. The topic of our lesson is Proficiency Scales and Rubrics.

Proficiency scales can be created for any subject area and at any grade level. You start by what it is you want students to know, or know how to do, and work from there.

The learning goal could come directly from whatever standard you're using. For example, Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, or Historical Thinking Standards.

A scale from low to high is used to measure competency on that specific scale. They typically include a wider base of scores. I'll demonstrate how to create one in this video. But for more examples, you can visit

The basic steps to creating a proficiency scale are you start by determining the range of scores you're going to use. You describe that range based on students' level of independence. You select the standard you're assessing. Write the standard as it's written and designate it as proficient. Add complexity and depth to the scale. And then do the same in the other direction.

So let's begin with our sample. Step one-- determine the range of scores. Typically the range starts from zero and goes to four on the HAPS.

The second step is to describe the range based on students' level of independence and complexity of the task. I've decided to use the term superior to describe the highest level, and work my way all the way down to novice.

The third step is to select the standards that is being assessed. I've chosen one from the Common Core State Standards, from math, grade five, Number Operations and Fractions.

And it reads, "Solve word problems involving the addition and subtraction of fractions, referring to the same whole, including cases of unlike denominators." I've copied that standard and written it directly into what I deem to be proficient. In this case, number three for advanced.

Step five is to add complexity and depth, and make that my number four. I've indicated what I've changed by adding it in red.

The sixth and final step is to do the same in the other direction by removing complexity and depth. As you can see, I've once again indicated the changes in red. Zero, or the lowest score, indicates that a student-- even with help-- is unable to meet the expectation.

A standards-based rubric measures multiple competencies and is typically scored on a four point scale. There are now many great online tools that can help you do this, including Goobric and iRubric, that are free. And you know what teachers say-- if it's free, it's for me.

Again, you start by choosing your standards. For the purposes of this example, I've chosen the following. In literacy, k with guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.

And also, ISTE standard two-- students use digital media in environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. An example of lessons that would address both the standards would be having children collaboratively revise and edit each other's writing using Google Docs.

Here I've taken the two standards and broken them down just a bit into smaller chunks to reflect the lesson. From there, just like I did with the proficiency scale, I would start with my Meet the Standard.

Then I would add complexity and depth to describe a four. And finally, take complexity and depth away to describe zero, one, and two.

Now a quick summary of what we covered in this lesson. We defined what a proficiency scale is. We looked at an overview of the basic steps to creating a proficiency scale. We defined standard-based rubrics. And we looked at how to create a standards-based rubric.

Here's today's food for thought. How does the information in this lesson align with your current assessment practices? Are there similarities or are there differences?

To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the additional resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted towards helping you discover more ways to apply this course material.

As always, thanks so much for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "Proficiency Scales and Rubrics"

(00:00-00:08) Intro

(00:09-00:45) Proficiency Scales

(00:46-01:08) Steps to Creating a Proficiency Scale

(01:09-02:27) Creating a Scale

(02:28-02:50) Standards Based Rubrics

(02:51-03:22) Selecting the Standards

(03:23-03:47) Building the Rubric

(03:48-04:35) Summary/Food For Thought

Additional Resources

Proficiency Scales vs Rubrics

This post from the blog Mr. Gonzalez's Classroom explains the difference between proficiency scales and rubrics as he learns the difference for his own professional practice. The site includes a prezi that walks through proficiency scales. In addition, the site offers examples of rubrics and proficiency scales.

Comparing Checklist, Rating Scale, and Rubric

In this blog, Kathy Dingo explains the difference between rubrics, scales and checklists with examples. In addition, she offers design considerations when building a rubric, scale or check list aligned to best practices. Finally, she provides advice on when to use a checklist, when to use a rubric and when to use a scale presenting the benefits and limitations of each.