Proficiency Scale Anchor Chart | Crafting Connections
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Proficiency Scale Anchor Chart

Monday, May 12, 2014
I don't know about your school, but "proficiency scales" is THE catch phrase in my district this year. A ton of our professional development time has been focused on the topic of developing proficiency scales.

Proficiency Scales- Help students understand their learning journey using this proficiency scale anchor chart!
Clip art by A Sketchy Guy.

Let me provide a brief overview for those of you who may not have heard of this buzz word.  A proficiency scale is written to match to each essential standard.  (We wrote just our language arts proficiency scales this past year.  I worked with the third grade team, and I believe we ended up with about 15 scales that we will implement in the next school year.)

One of the essential language arts standards in our district is that students will use context clues to determine the meaning of a word.  In third grade, we focus on synonym and antonym clues.  Therefore, we had to develop a proficiency scale to match this essential standard.  The teacher scale is quite wordy and includes the following information (plus more).

Students at Level 0 have no understanding of the skill, even with help.

Students at Level 0.5 have partial understanding of the simpler skills (as outlined in Level 2) with help.

Students at Level 1 have some understanding of the simpler skills and some understanding of the more complex skills (as outlined in Level 3) with help.

Students at Level 1.5 have partial understanding of the simpler content, but major errors/omissions with the more complex content.

Students at Level 2 have no errors regarding simpler details (this is where the vocabulary that students need to know for this skill is listed), but they still have major errors and omissions with the more complex ideas and processes.  (In the case of context clues, a student might be at Level 2 when they can define synonyms and antonyms and give examples, but they cannot apply their synonym and antonym knowledge to determine the meaning of an unknown word in a sentence that includes a synonym or antonym clue.)

Students at Level 2.5 have no errors with 2.0 content, and partial knowledge with 3.0 content.

Students at Level 3.0 can:  (This is where the grade level expectation is listed.  For example, in the case of context clues, it might state "Students at this level can use synonyms and antonyms to determine the meaning of an unknown word in a sentence.  For example, My older brother is shy, but my younger brother is quite loquacious.")

Students at Level 3.5 can perform at a Level 3, and even go beyond expectations by demonstrating in-depth applications with partial success.

Students at Level 4 can perform at a Level 3, and go beyond expectations by demonstrating inferences and applications that go beyond what is taught.

Whew!  That's a lot!!  It's not very kid-friendly, either, is it?  In fact, it can sometimes seem a little muddy as a teacher to try to determine where on the scale each student lies!  To simplify, our goal is to have all students at a Level 3 by the end of the school year, but if they go beyond Level 3, that's "icing on the cake".  And, yes, students are assessed to determine where they fall on the proficiency scale, usually with some sort of common formative assessment.  (If you want to see completed proficiency scales, check out Marzano's proficiency scale bank!)

Anyway, back to my professional development last Tuesday, I found myself sitting and listening to yet another speaker share their vision of proficiency scales.  To my sweet surprise, I think this presentation was the most beneficial one yet!  Anyway, as the speaker was talking about various ways to introduce the concept of a proficiency scale to kids (we need them to buy into this system, after all), my brain started kicking into gear...  I soon had a vision of a kid-friendly version of a proficiency scale as an ANCHOR CHART!  My vision featured a hiker... and I just knew that the hiker clip art by The Sketchy Guy that I already owned would work perfectly!!  I couldn't wait to return to school after the session and get right to work on it!  (I knew that if I waited until the new school year begins in August, my idea would long be forgotten!!)  Anyway, I'm quite pleased by how it turned out!

I plan to introduce it to students at the beginning of the school year.  When we begin a new standard, I will ask students to rate where they currently are on the scale (and if they are at a 1, that is completely okay... they will soon start to climb up this learning mountain as they learn more about the skill).  As days pass and students learn more about the standard, we will revisit the anchor chart, and students can self- assess their progress.  I think it will be fun for students to see themselves progress on their learning journey!

I can't wait to check out your anchor charts!  Thanks for linking up!


  1. I am excited to link up because I love anchor charts too! Proficiency scales are all the rage here too. Marzano has a whole bank of them online to match the common core in case you're interested. :)

    1. I will have to check them out. So far, Nebraska hasn't adopted Common Core, but I think we are getting close... Thank you for linking up!!

    2. I didn't know that Nebraska hadn't adopted Common Core yet. It will be interesting to see what you think, when and if they do. I wonder what the future holds for Common Core, seeing the backlash that is coming into play this year......

  2. I love how you used A Sketchy Guy's hiker clip art for this... it worked perfectly to show each level! I'll be back later this week to link up (we were out at professional development today)


    1. Thanks, Kelli! I can't wait to see your anchor chart later this week!

  3. You are always soooo clever! My kids would enjoy this anchor chart! Although we are not into proficiency scales, I do impress the importance of metacognition with my students. This would be PERFECT! Besides... it tickled me! It reminds me of the Price Is Right mountain climber! LOVE IT!

    Have a great week

    1. The mountain climber... I hadn't thought of that, but you're right!!!! Thanks again for linking up!

    2. I thought the same thing when I saw it! My favorite game. :)

  4. Love this chart! I hadn't heard of proficiency scales......yet...... ;)

  5. Your anchor chart is too cute.. and such a smart idea! I linked up with you, after wanting to all week. I know it's Thursday, but I made it before Friday so that has to count for something! ;)


  6. Thank you so much for linking up, Mandy! I was so excited when I saw my blog lovin feed this morning!

  7. I purchased the hikers to make this for my classroom. How were you able to get some of the figures facing right rather than left?

    1. Hello! First of all, I use PowerPoint to create all of my documents. Here are the steps I take to flip clip art pieces.

      1. Open a PowerPoint presentation.
      2. Paste the figure into the document.
      3. Click on the figure.
      4. On the menu bar, make sure "home" is selected.
      5. In the drop down menu for "home", near the far right of the screen is the word "arrange". Click on that.
      6. A new drop down box will appear. Click on "rotate".
      7. A new drop down box will appear. Click on "flip horizontal".

      I hope that helps!

      Deb :)


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