How is My Child Doing? Part 2

standardsIn Part 1 of How is My Child Doing?  I explained the process for breaking learning into goals in a proficiency-based education (PBE) system.  This is part of clearly articulating the learning.  In RSU 10 during the 2017-18 school year we created graduation standards, reporting standards, and learning targets for all content areas K-12.

I’ll create a writing assignment so we can look at the reporting standard, learning targets, and the rubric as an example of a PBE assessment.  

Reporting Standards

Here is an actual RSU #10 standard for writing; we’ll use the example of a How-To Essay .

ELA.W.3.2  Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

  • This is a third grade writing standard.
  • It is clearly stated and consistently taught in third grade across the district.
  • This reporting standard is in PowerSchool and students’ progress will be reported out on it there.

Learning Targets

For this standard, there are four learning targets —

a. Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.

b. Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details.

c. Use linking words and phrases (e.g., also, another, and, more, but) to connect ideas within categories of information.

d. Provide a concluding statement or section.

Each step (a – d)  is taught, students practice and receive feedback on each step.  Then students would put all the steps together to create a complete writing assignment — the essay.  A complete essay is the summative or final exam, and this score is put in the grading system.

word cloudRubric or Scale

A rubric or scale is given to students during the teaching of this standard. The rubric provides a guide for student learning and when marked by a teacher it measures where a student is in terms of his/her learning. 

Here is an example of a rubric/scale for a How-To Essay for this standard and learning targets.

Sample rubric

For our How-To essay, the rubric and learning targets match up in the following ways —

a. Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.  Organization,

b. Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details.  Organization & Elaboration

c. Use linking words and phrases (e.g., also, another, and, more, but) to connect ideas within categories of information.  Use of Language

d. Provide a concluding statement or section.  Organization

Audience and Purpose — Could be an example of a previous learning target , which may be a skill we want students to carry into other writing assignments.

The teacher would circle on the rubric where each student achieves.  

Test Grade vs. Rubric

In a traditional education setting, a test score gives information about how a student is doing in a subject.  In a proficiency-based setting, the rubric gives specific information about how the student is doing in each step (or learning target) of his/her learning.  The focus has shifted to reporting out on overall areas (like Math or Writing) to reporting out on explicit learning steps.

Yes, this is a lot of information, but you as a parent can choose how much information you want

Do you want to look at the reporting standard? > Go into PowerSchool or look on the report card. 

Do you want to know how your child is doing on each learning target (step)?  > Go into PowerSchool and drill down a bit (we will offer training on this in the fall). 

Want to know how a student did on an assignment/assessment?  > Look at the rubric.



How is My Child Doing? Part 1.

In presenting information about PBE, a comment was made to the effect of — “I used to know how my child was doing when I saw the grade [on an assignment or test].”test

In a traditional education setting, the image here might be a “quiz” and the score would probably be 80%  meaning the student had two wrong and eight correct out of ten problems.  This is a fairly straight forward example.


How about if we take an essay — essay sample

This score is just what we parents love to see — our child is doing well!  But, as a PBE educator, I would ask you — “In what is your child doing well?  What is being graded here? The overall writing? Format? Ability to revise?

In PBE, the learning for students is broken down.  Here’s the process —

  1. Standards are created for all subject areas.
  2. Teachers teach the standards.  
  3. The standard is broken down into the learning steps .
  4. The learning steps target exactly the skills, knowledge, or processes that a student needs to learn, or master, or achieve. 
  5. Teachers teach the learning steps (called learning targets), create assignments, practice sheets, homework, and assessments for each learning target.  Students complete the work and teachers offer feedback to improve student achievement.  Students revise until they demonstrate the learning, master the skill, or understand the process.

The Tenets of PBE

This post illustrates several of the tenets of PBE

  • Clearly  articulated learning goals (reporting standards > learning targets).
  • Use of formative assessments to inform teaching and learning.
  • The ability to revise and submit until the learning is solid.



Proficiency Based Defined


Proficiency-based education (PBE) has been around for a long while.  In our district, since 2005. It has been known as mass customized learning, standards-based grading, competency-based learning, and finally, proficiency-based education.  Maine Department of Education (MDOE) refers to this system of learning as PBD — proficiency-based diploma — which is almost as inflammatory (and unfortunate) as MCL (mass customized learning).  Let’s break this down a bit . . . 

What is proficiency-based learning?


PBE “refers to systems of instruction, assessment, grading, and academic reporting that are based on the knowledge and skills students are expected to learn”



I’m sorry, what? 

First, we make it very clear what students must learn. Teams of teachers and the director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment create graduation standards, which are the big, global learnings that all students must achieve.  The team then writes standards, which are clearly stated learning goals, and then these are broken down into steps called learning targets.  The curriculum tree shows you how all of these are related.

Second, we share what students must learn with all teachers, all students, and all parents.  Teachers provide feedback to students about what they have achieved / learned, and on what they still need to work.  We encourage students to do more practice work, homework, and we reteach in new ways.  We allow more time for those students who need it.   We also allow retakes on assessments, so they can demonstrate that they’ve learned.


Finally, the report card reflects exactly what students have learned, and where they need to work a little harder or have more time and support to achieve.


Is that all? 

No.  I’ll think I’ll make this a series of blog posts.   Are you along for the PBE ride?


Summer & CIA

CIAIt’s summer! While many educators are slowing the pace a bit and maybe picking up a-guilty-pleasure book — rather than educational reading — things over in the curriculum, assessment, & instruction (CIA) world are a heatin’ up.  


What’s Up at MDOE?

Maine Department of Education (MDOE) created a new report for us to complete this year.  It’s called the Comprehensive Needs Assessment / Consolidated Plan (CNA/CP). There is an overarching plan for the district, which spans all PreK-12 grade levels in all buildings, and then each elementary school completes a School-Wide CNA/CP.  The plan for the district was 80 pages when I submitted it. The school plans were 50-60 pages each. We’ve been working on these plans since March and submitted them early on 6/22/18.


And, grants. . . 

Secondly, all grants are due — also to MDOE.  This means I have to report out on the performance of each of Title 1, Title II, Title IV, and Title V, and then I have to create the application for each Title for 18-19. All of that is due on 8/1/18.

bedside books

So, do I have any summer fun?

 Okay, summer in the CIA world is not a down time, but I do have a few pleasure books sitting on my nightstand — Educated, Between Breaths, and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine .


What do you do for summer fun?


Blog Post — On Worksheets

This post again combines my job as director of all things curriculum, instruction, and assessment with my family life.  As I said before, I have four children — two are grown, married with children, and living in their own homes; two are at home with my husband and me.  IMG_3041My eleven-year old daughter is zany, artistic, loving, funny, beautiful, smart, and very musical, and she needs additional time and support to be successful academically.  We spend a lot of time doing homework — A LOT of time!!!  Now in seventh grade, she has brought home more worksheets this year — note that it is late November — than all other years combined.  What’s important to note is that what would take my son 15 minutes to finish, might take my daughter one hour.  See what I mean by spending a lot of time doing homework?

Last week we were sitting at the table struggling through an Absolute and Relative Location two-page worksheet.  Each page contained ten questions.  She had to plug in a location, to which the Google page spit back the latitude and longitude, and then she had to write down this information.  She had to do this ten times over.  Then as if that weren’t enough, she had to go back and for each location give three relative descriptions.  It was mind-blowing torture.  She, of course, asked the ubiquitous question, “When am I ever going to use this, Mom?” To which I had no reply because I’ve never used this in my adult life.  Never.

noLGBTQflagAs we continued to slog through, she ran to her computer and pulled up a Google image page and showed me the LGBTQ flag with the No symbol through it.   I figured she needed a worksheet break, so I asked her about this image, and she was pretty upset that anyone would fly or post this image as it would be mean to those struggling with identity (yes, those were her words).  I asked her what she thought she might do about that.  She had already pondered this and wanted to send an email to her teacher and the principal asking if they could put up an LGBTQ flag.  She wanted students to know they are welcome at her school.

She dictated and I typed  the email (typing is another skill that requires a great deal of concentration and can be frustrating for her).  She choose the image below and asked if they could hang something like this in the hallway near the entrance of the school .  She was so nervous, excited, and anxious about hitting send.  At this point, I didn’t have the heart to return her attention to the worksheet.gay flag

The next morning, she came flying downstairs to tell me that her principal had responded, thought it was a great idea, and wanted her to go see him after lunch.  She asked her social studies teacher to help create and supervise a Civil Rights Team at her school.

What I find so interesting is that this teacher hasn’t helped my daughter to connect this interest and passion to the social studies curriculum.  How amazing would it have been if this could have replaced the current event article that she had to report out on via Google form, or if an individual project was crafted for my child connected to  locations that are struggling with this issue and have my daughter look at why or what is happening in the culture. Nope.

Next week there will be another worksheet hot off the copier that will list two topics, ask her to choose one, look it up, and report out on it.  She will spend hours writing down information on this worksheet, and she will turn to me and ask, “Mom, why is this important?”  I will have no answer.  Again.



Blog Post — Family First

Is it odd that the first blog post on this new director of curriculum/instruction /assessment blog is about family rather than work?  Not if you know me; family is my first priority, and I have lots of family.  Thank goodness.

I have two grown married children and each one has two children; yes, that means I have four grandchildren — three girls and one boy.  They range in age from three and a half months to seven.  My youngest makes an appearance on this website in my About pic.  Here are the othersIMG_1975

Now here’s the part that where it gets really 21st Century.  I also have an 11-year old and a 12-year old at home.  Yes, really.  My husband and I were lucky enough and worked really hard to foster > adopt both of our children. The KidsAnd, there’s the Doodle, too.  Her name is Embden as in Embden Pond, because we wanted to name her after something we all love, and we love our camp on Embden Pond.  She is one year old, so bouncy enough to still be a whole lotta fun but has enough skills that she is okay to take out in public — most of the time.

Well, that’s my family.  And, I must say that if they need me, I am there.  The nice thing about that is if your family needs you, I completely understand and will urge you to go be with them, too.


Featured Content — Curric/Assmnt

Curriculum — Currently we are revising the big four content areas — English language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science.  All areas are aligned with the Maine Learning Results, and we are working to pull in the Literacy Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.  The members of each Vertical Team are also choosing graduation standards and freshman standards.  Work on the horizon includes reviewing the Maine Guiding Principles and creating a PK-12 system for determining proficiency in these knowledge and skill areas.

Assessments — The next step will be to create common rubrics for the freshman standards.  This will allow teachers to create their own summative assessments but the scoring will be consistent