Priority Standards, Proficiency Scales, Assessments

Priority Standards, Proficiency Scales, Assessments 

In the standards-era of education, it is critical that schools develop a Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum. A guaranteed curriculum means all teachers will teach the same priority standards for the same course and/or grade level. A viable curriculum is one that can be taught in the time available for teachers to do so. Assessment is first and foremost a teaching tool, not just a grading tool. Developing quality assessments and using a variety of assessment practices is one of the most important aspects of teaching and learning in the standards-based learning environment. 

The goal of the Standards Professional Learning (SPL) grant project was to engage practitioners in a collaborative study of learning standard viability, learning targets, and proficiency scales in order to improve core instruction and assessment of student mastery. Read the full SPL Grant Evaluation Report here.

Prioritized Instructional Planning Asynchronous Course  |   Click to learn more! >>>>


Professional learning through online, independent study

Standards-Based Teaching & Learning Online Course Available!
A continuum of courses from introducing standards, identifying priority standards, creating proficiency scales, and implementing in your classroom through the lens of assessment, feedback, instruction and planning!

Questions? Please contact Erin Lacina, NESC, at



Introduction to ND State Content Standards
This is a primer NOT a pre-requisite for the Standards-Based Instruction course.

This course is intended for those who are ready to begin intensifying their work with the North Dakota State Standards but are either new to those standards or need a deeper understanding of their usage. Participants will gain the background knowledge necessary to understand North Dakota standards and how they drive classroom instruction.

  • Course Objectives:
    • Understand the inception of the standards movement in ND
    • Understand the scope of the ND state standards in your content area (This course is designed to meet the needs of all content area teachers.)
    • Locate and navigate ND standards documents

Standards-Based Instruction

This course engages educators in the study of North Dakota standards through prioritization and use of standards, development, and use of proficiency scales, development and use of classroom goals, and development and use of assessment items for the purpose of improving instruction and assessment. Educators can expect in-depth practice and are encouraged to have a partner or PLC in mind in order to complete many of the course tasks.

  • Course Objectives:
    • Understand the how, what, and why of a guaranteed and viable curriculum 
    • Utilize the standard-prioritization process
    • Deconstruct standards into individual skills and learning targets
    • Create learning progressions from content standards by identifying proficiency, prerequisite knowledge, and enrichment
    • Understand and utilize the components of quality classroom assessment


How are Proficiency Standards & Scales Actually Being Used in the Classroom?

Proficiency Scales in PLCs Impact on Teacher Feedback Understanding Essential Vocabulary Incorporating Supporting Standards
Instructional Unit Design 

How a Northwood, ND Teacher
Uses Scales in the Classroom 

  Oakes 5th Grader Explains Proficiency Scales and tools they use to learn in the classroom  

More to come!

If you want to share, please send your testimonial to


Webinars with Phil Warrick and Jan Hoegh, Marzano Resources:

Password required for access. Please email Erin Lacina at with your Full Name, Job Title, School, and District.




  • Students indicated the feedback they received was valuable. Students had an easier time seeing writing as a skill they can improve, rather than something a person is either good or bad at."

  • "Student learning has definitely increased and students feel safe to ask questions or bring up issues in class because of it."

  • "Students felt that the instruction had more purpose. It also put learning ownership into the students' hands."

  • "Students are more self-motivated to achieve their next level."

  • "My students were engaged and loved taking ownership in their knowledge of why and what is needed to be successful in their content area."

  • "I feel the students are seeing more success because they are now mastering the information which helps them build a stronger foundation. Our 3rd-grade students tested quite well on the NDSA in the area of math. I think it has a lot to do with the focus on the mastery of our prioritized standards."

  • "Students definitely feel more confident for tests because of the proficiency scales helping me slow down to re-teach a concept that they were struggling with. Kids love the Student-Generated Assessment and will make high-quality work from it!" 

  • "Students had an easier time self-assessing and knowing what a reasonable goal for improvement is. I also had an easier time in feedback and thinking of the next step for each student."

  • "When given a clear scale, students are engaged in making the effort to be more successful."

  • "My students were much more knowledgeable about where they were performing and where they were headed. They [The scales] worked really well for my student-led conferences."

  • "Not only will I be using these; I will be sharing with everyone else at the school. The resources & help we received at this workshop are FANTASTIC!"  - Teacher, Manvel Public School

  • "It was awesome. This is going to be amazing for my classroom. - Elementary Teacher, Tate Topa Tribal School