Academics » Proficiency Scales

Proficiency Scales

A proficiency scale is used by teachers and students in elementary schools to determine the student's current level of progress and achievement toward meeting the expectations of a learning standard.  We introduced the use of proficiency scales last year in grades K-2, and have expanded the use in conjunction with standards-based report cards, as they contribute validity and reliability to the scoring process.
Proficiency scales use a 4-point system where a score of 3.0 indicates proficiency - meeting the standard's expectation(s). In other words a student who receives a score of 3.0 has MET the grade-level standard. A general description of the 4-point scoring system for proficiency scales is below:
Score 4.0 - The score of 4 is reserved for occasions where the student has mastered the standard's expectations AND gone above and beyond its expectations and applied skills in an authentic and advanced manner.
Score 3.0 - The score of 3 means the student has MET the grade-level standard.
Score 2.0 - The score of 2 means the student has gained an understanding of the vocabulary and simpler processes of the standard. Students are able to do the prerequisites necessary for the standard (3.0), but not able to do what the standard requires.
Score 1.0 - The score of 1 means the student can achieve partial success with the vocabulary and simpler processes of the standard WITH HELP (from a classmate, assistant, or teacher).
The proficiency scale below communicates each level of proficiency through a life skill all of us have done at some point in our lives or another - riding a bike on our own.
riding a bike - proficiency scales

How does the 4-point proficiency scale help students, teachers, and parents?


  • The 4-point proficiency scale increases the likelihood our students "hit" the targets (3.0) that are clearly defined for them.  We are taking the secrecy out of what they need to learn and practice, and there's no secret about what will be assessed or graded.
  • Proficiency scales provide clarity and transparency relative to levels of mastery.
  • The 4-point proficiency scale puts the focus on learning and what to learn next rather than on points possible on an assignment, project, quiz, or test.
  • The 4-point proficiency scale increases clarity and equips students, teachers, and parents with a way to talk about what the student currently can do and what the student is still working on learning and becoming proficient at.


The 4-point proficiency scale empowers students to:


  • Track their progress relative to the expectations in the standard's proficiency scale.
  • Set goals based on what they can do well and what they still need to focus their class time on learning and getting better at.
  • Identify skills on the proficiency scale they still do not know how to do yet and skills they focus on learning, asking for help on, and practicing in school (and at home). 
  • Celebrate their growth, progress, and proficiency for each standard.