Question 5: How do you scaffold a proficiency so that there’s a viable path for student success?

Conceptual Overview

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Presentation Audio Transcript

Text-based Reflection

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Read Achieve's article "The Role of Learning Progressions in Competency-Based Pathways" to get a baseline understanding of the field of learning progressions and explore the relationship between learning progressions, content standards, and assessments.
Answer the following questions:

  • What role should research play as schools develop performance indicators?
  • What are the connections between performance indicators schools create and research-based learning progressions?
  • How do research-based learning progressions fit with personalized education?
  • How do research-based learning progressions guide instructional practice in a personalized, proficiency-based assessment system?

Practice the Process

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Develop performance indicators at different levels using the following steps:

  • Determine how many assessment levels you want to define.
  • Chose the performance indicators you wrote in Question 4 and write matching performance indicators for the different levels you chose in step 1. Think about the steps in that individual skill development. When are there discernible differences between the 12th grade expectation and the next level down?
  • Check your language using the Maine DOE’s “Design Criteria Chart: Defining Performance Indicators for Content-Area Reporting Standards”.

Adopt and Adapt

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Assessment levels are defined at the end of elementary, middle, and high school in the Vermont sample proficiency documents.

Examine the AOE sample graduation proficiencies below, which are examples of a rigorous proficiency-based graduation framework that meets Education Quality Standards (EQS) requirements:

Answer the below questions:

  • Do you think that these levels are appropriate for your setting? If yes, explain. If no, where else would you draw assessment lines?
  • Do you think the language is appropriate for the grade level? If no, rewrite them in language that you think is appropriate without changing the spirit of the language.

Case Study Analysis

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Read the case study below:

A New Way School District (ANWSD) and Backward Design School District (BDSD) recently formed a new union and have been working together to come to consensus on a Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment System. BDSD brought with it a proficiency-based assessment system that was being revisited and refined each year as part of the district's continuous cycle of improvement. Although the representatives from ANWSD initially resisted the assessment system, they decided to move ahead with the already-established assessment system as long as the next time the system was evaluated, research-based learning progressions would be included in the review. Previously, BDSD had only relied on standards and their own professional experience in development, review, and refinement process.

Answer the following questions:

  • After reading "The Role of Learning Progressions in Competency-Based Pathways", what strategies might you share with the school union?

    • Who should be involved in the refinement process and how?
    • What types of professional development should the union consider?
    • What challenges might they encounter as they connect their performance indicators to research-based learning progressions?

More Resources

Review this proficiency scales graphic produced by Vermont educators in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Education.
Read Tom Vander Ark’s "Pacing in Competency-Based Learning" blog post for advice compiled from experts in the field about how to pace deeper learning.
Read James Popham's article The Lowdown on Learning Progressions, which provides an overview of learning progressions, compelling reasons for their popularity, and important considerations for their usage.
Read Amy Dickson's Proficiency-Based Learning and the Growth Mindset: A Classroom Example which explores conversations with teachers about proficiency-based learning, the growth mindset, and student engagement.
Read Achieve's article "The Role of Learning Progressions in Competency-Based Pathways" to get a baseline understanding of the field of learning progressions and explore the relationship between learning progressions, content standards, and assessments.
Read Mark Wilson's "Measuring Progressions: Structures Underlying a Learning Progression" for a scholarly exploration of the links between learning progressions and assessment.
Review Dr. Karin Hess's Tools & Strategies for Developing and Using Learning Progressions powerpoint, which identifies four interrelated guiding principles of learning progressions and describes ways in which formative assessment can be used to develop new learning progressions or to refine existing ones.
Read Richard Duschla, Seungho Maenga, and Asli Sezen's "Learning Progressions Review Analysis" for an article examining the design, development, and reporting of learning progressions and teaching sequences.
Watch Dr. Karin Hess's "Hawaii Teachers Building Learning Progressions" for a 14 minute video of Hawaiian educators reflecting on their success developing, testing, and using learning progressions (which they refer to as "progress maps").
Browse Dr. Karin Hess's Learning Progressions Frameworks Designed for Use with the CCSS in Math K-12, which describes research-based pathways for learning that guide lesson planning and curriculum and assessment development for K-12 mathematics.

Evidence of Learning

Be sure to record your answers to the above questions in the Evidence of Learning Tool.

Continue this Self-Paced Course

Question 6: How can I pilot test my proficiency language?

Browse other questions: Developing and Applying Proficiencies

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