I. Measurement Topics and Proficiency Scales

     At the core of the academy model are measurement topics and proficiency scales. These are described in depth in the books  The Handbook for Personalized Competency-Based Education (Marzano, Norford, Finn, and Finn III, 2017), Making Classroom Assessments Reliable and Valid (Marzano, 2018), and The New Art and Science of Classroom Assessment (Marzano, Norford, and Ruyle, 2018).

     Measurement topics, as the name implies, are those topics that will be assessed by classroom teachers in each subject area and each grade level. To illustrate, consider figure 1.1.

     The use of measurement topics can be a rather significant change for some schools since within the traditional approach teachers commonly don’t keep track of how students are performing on a topic-by-topic basis. 

The Empower LMS

     An academy uses a specific learning management system (LMS) entitled Empower (empowerlearning.net). The vast majority of components in an academy can and should be carried out directly within the Empower system. Therefore, it is imperative that academy teachers learn to navigate the Empower system as quickly as possible and continue to develop their expertise in Empower over time. In this book, callouts like the one below will contain instructions about how concepts under discussion can be found or performed in the Empower application. 

     Measurement Topics and their associated Scales can be found in the Target Browser. Each tile in the Target Browser is a Measurement Topic. 

     As we use Empower to create Gradebooks and Instruction, we will return to the Target Browser over and over to select the standards we are working with, so it is important to be very familiar with it. 
    This tutorial will teach you all about it. 

The Target Browser

     Everything in the Target Browser can be created and managed by those with administrative rights in Empower. A video with instructions for this can be found in the appendix at the end of this chapter.

Every measurement topic should have an accompanying proficiency scale such as the one in figure 1.2.

Anywhere you see the       icon, click it to see the proficiency scale.

     Proficiency scales such as the one in figure 1.2 are foundational to assessment and instruction in every subject and within an academy, including the following:

    •    Mathematics
    •    Science
    •    English language arts
    •    Social studies
    •    Technology
    •    The arts
    •    Foreign language
    •    Cognitive analysis skills
    •    Knowledge applications skills
    •    Metacognitive skills


Every proficiency scale follows the same format. To understand that format it is best to start with the score 3.0 content. This level represents proficiency in whatever topic is the focus of the scale. When students can demonstrate the knowledge and skill at the 3.0 level they are considered proficient. The content at the score 2.0 level represents knowledge that is considered prerequisite to the 3.0 content and will be directly taught to students. The content at the score 4.0 level is that which demonstrates expertise above the proficient level. In some cases, a specific task is articulated at the score 4.0 level, in other cases a general statement is provided, such as: The student demonstrates inferences and applications beyond the score 3.0 level.

A proficiency scale also contains levels for score 2.5 and 1.0. These levels do not contain more content. Rather, they are used when scoring assessments for a measurement topic. This is addressed in the next section entitled Classroom Assessment. This is also true for the other half-point scores on the scale. They do not contain new content but are used when scoring assessments. 

©Robert J Marzano

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