Question 3: How do you write a proficiency statement?

Conceptual Overview

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Presentation Audio Transcript

Text-based Reflection

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Read the ComptencyWorks Issue Brief “The Art and Science of Designing Competencies” and the following quote:

"...in drawing together the ingredients for designing competencies and rubrics, consider the language you will use. It can be powerful or bureaucratically boring. It can inspire and challenge, or it can introduce a culture of compliance and checklists. Remember that the language you use can be an invaluable tool to engage and motivate students. "

Answer the following questions:

  • What is your reaction to the quote? Do you agree?
  • For who should schools write proficiency statements: Administrators? Teachers? Students? Parents? Other?

Practice the Process

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Write a proficiency statement, using your ideas from Question 2 about what it looks like and sounds like to be a good speaker at the end of grade 12. We suggest completing the Text-Based Reflection above before writing your statement.

Adopt and Adapt

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In Question 2, you looked at Vermont's language for two sample graduation proficiency statements. The language was written for high school exit, but the performance indicators span elementary to high school.

  • Rewrite the following statements for elementary students and for middle school students, trying hard to not change the overall meaning of the original, and keeping in mind that student friendly language is important for students' ability to reflect on their progress and to create learning goals in a personalized system:
    • Speaking and Listening: Initiate and participate effectively in a range of discussions, responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives and expressing ideas clearly and persuasively.
    • Speaking and Listening: Present information, findings and supporting evidence conveying a clear and distinct perspective.
  • Rewrite each proficiency statement once so that it is accessible to all students K-12.

Case Study Analysis

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Read the case study below:

The staff at PBGR school district is looking to adopt and adapt the proficiency language from another school district rather than create their own. After a four-month review process, the committee of twelve recommended one option. They based their decision on multiple factors including connection with their school community's "Vision of the Graduate," the organization of the proficiencies, and the clear alignment between the proficiencies and standards. Although the language was not perfect, it was pretty good, and the team thought that major changes would not be necessary before full-scale implementation. In their first round of feedback, they gave all teachers copies of the documents and asked for general feedback. What were some red flags? What language did they not understand? The feedback was good, and no major issues arose.

Before full implementation, they knew it was important to do a soft launch. They asked twenty-four teachers who were already doing performance assessments to use the proficiency language over the course of the second trimester as they gave feedback to students. Each time teachers used the language to help them give feedback to students, they were asked to fill out an electronic form. At the end of the trimester, the committee and the soft launch teachers got together to talk about the feedback and next steps.

Three words were particularly problematic in the language: cohesive, cursory, and disseminate. Half of the teachers felt these three words were not accessible to students. The other half felt that it was their job to teach them the words and they shouldn't lower their standards. The committee wanted full consensus from the group before moving forward.

Answer the following questions:

  • What advice would you give them moving forward?
  • How can students be part of the solution?

More Resources

Read Education Research in Action’s “What exactly do ‘fewer, clearer, and higher standards’ really look like in the classroom? Using a cognitive rigor matrix to analyze curriculum, plan lessons, and implement assessments” Note: although the text uses the language of “standards,” the ideas apply to writing any level of learning target.

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 4: How do you write a proficiency statement?

Browse other questions: Developing and Applying Proficiencies

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Vermont Agency of Education
Secretary Rebecca Holcombe
219 North Main Street, Suite 402
Barre, VT 05641

(802) 479-1030 | aoe.edinfo@vermont.gov
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