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Proficiency Scales

Proficiency Scales

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Author: Kathleen Johnson
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In this lesson, you will learn what proficiency scales are, why they are useful in assessing student mastery, and how to create them.

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Hello, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you're having a wonderful day today. Today, we're going to take a look at proficiency scales. And for today's lesson, I've chosen a quote by Aristotle, which states, "What we learn to do, we learn by doing."

Now, by the end of the lesson today, you are going to be able to define what a proficiency scale is and discuss why they can be useful, as well as explain the steps that are involved in creating a proficiency scale. So, first, let's go ahead and take it an overview of proficiency scales. Proficiency scales are really a set of descriptions that are based out at different levels of competence.

So what we're looking at here are descriptions that show what a beginning level of competency looks like, all the way up to a mastery of a particular competency. Now, each individual level of this proficiency scale is going to correspond to a different stage of development as students are working towards the mastery of a particular competency. This leads right into the great relationship between proficiency scales and competency-based education. They relate very closely, because in competency-based education, we always look for those ways of measuring student progress towards that particular competency, and proficiency scales helped to make this happen.

Now, proficiency scales tend to be very helpful in setting those learning goals. So they ask students to really make sure that they are not only seeing where it is that they are hoping to reach by the end of a particular lesson or assignment, but also, they can be useful in helping to evaluate the student's progress towards that mastery of that competency. Proficiency scales can also help students really look at what they're aiming for. So focusing in on what the student is hopefully going to reach by the end, and then helping students to know when they've reached that goal or what they need to do in order to continue and improve reaching those various learning targets that we set out for them.

Finally, proficiency scales are always aligned with the standards. So within proficiency scale, you'll notice that the standards can be seen throughout the various elements that a student is going to be judged on based on that proficiency scale. Next, let's go ahead and take a look at how to create a proficiency scale. So let's review all of the steps involved in really creating that proficiency scale.

The first step that you need to take is to determine your range of scores. Now, typically, when we are creating a proficiency scale using either your subject standard or the ISTE standards, you are going to use a range that follows the 0, 0.5, 1, 1.5, and so on, all the way up to 4. And that will be the range that we are going to use today.

The next step involved is to describe that range based on student's level of independence completing the tasks and the complexity of the tasks. Generally, these go from highest to lowest. So the more complex and the more independence needed, that's going to get you much higher on this scale, as opposed to the opposite.

For step three, we need to select the standard that we are going to assess. Sometimes this will be just a standard within your content area. Sometimes you will also use an ISTE standard. And you can put all of these together as you're creating your proficiency scale, as well as the rubric that you use to assess the student.

Step four is writing that standard as it's written at the point of proficiency. So what we do here is if we're looking on a normal four-point rubric, with the proficiency is typically at a three, meaning you've met what's necessary. So we're going to use that area to write out the standard as it appears in our standards document.

Then, step five is to add complexity and depth to that scale as we move up towards four. So we're going to take that proficiency, and we're going to add a little more complexity and depth so that students who are already proficient can work towards a greater mastery and understanding of that area.

Then, step six is to do the same thing, but in the opposite direction. We're going to remove elements of complexity and depth as we move down the scale towards less proficiency and, finally, to no proficiency. If you choose to include a zero on your rubric and proficiency scale, it's important that you understand that that zero indicates that a student, even with extra help, isn't able to demonstrate proficiency or even partial proficiency within that particular area.

Now that you've reached the end of this lesson, you have been able to define what a proficiency scale is and why they're so useful, as well as to explain the steps involved in creating a proficiency scale. What I'd like to do now is give you just a little bit of time for reflection. As you looked through the steps to create a proficiency scale, what do you think would be the most difficult part of creating those proficiency scales for your lessons?

As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you might want to explore the additional resources section that accompanies this video. This is where you'll find links to resources that have been chosen to really help you deepen your learning and explore the various ways that you can apply your newly acquired skill.

Notes on "Proficiency Scales"

(00:00-00:14) Intro

(00:15-00:29) Objectives

(00:30-02:34) Overview Proficiency Scales

(02:35-05:03) Proficiency Scale Development Steps

(05:04-05:47) Review & Reflection

Additional Resources

Not Available at This Time