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English Language Learner KnowledgeBase for Administrators & Teachers

This KnowledgeBase archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.

The English Language Learner (ELL) KnowledgeBase for Administrators and Teachers is an online resource supporting both the administration, teaching and execution of programs for English learning students. It offers resources related to Office for Civil Rights (OCR) requirements and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Task 1: Understanding Benchmarks and Rubrics

Guideline: Central to the Lake Eola Charter School philosophy is benchmark and rubric scoring. This method of grading allows teachers, students, and parents to monitor academic progress more precisely than more traditional methods of grading. Instead of receiving a single letter grade for a class, students receive rubric scores on individual benchmarks. This system ensures that teachers’ lessons focus on the most important skills and concepts in each subject, and that assessments measure students’ mastery of them. So, what are benchmarks and rubrics?

Benchmarks are specific skills, concepts, or information that make up the curriculum in each subject area. Most schools have benchmarks. The difference at LECS (and other cutting-edge schools and school systems throughout the country) is that instead of receiving a grade in each subject area, LECS students receive scores on individual benchmarks. Before a score can be recorded for a benchmark on a report card, teachers must give at least three assessments on that benchmark. Some benchmarks, particularly in science and social studies, are covered in a single trimester, while others may be scored all three trimesters or may remain the same over several years of school. When the score appears on the report card, parents can be assured that the score represents the students’ quality of work and mastery of that specific benchmark

Rubric scoring is a method of grading for mastery. Instead of “earning points” towards letter grades, students must demonstrate mastery of the skills, concepts, or information covered in the benchmark. Teachers constantly create rubrics that show what constitutes mastery on specific assignments, and the report cards give the basic rubric for all benchmarks. In grades 3-8, a 4.0 means the student has mastery; a 3.0 means the student is proficient; a 2.0 means the student is still in progress of learning; and a 1.0 means the student has minimal understanding of the benchmark. Similarly, in grades K-2, an “E” means that student has exceeded expectations; an “M” means the student has met expectations; “IP” means the student is still in progress of learning the benchmark; and an “N” means the student needs improvement. Rubric scores on benchmarks in no way relate to traditional grades of A, B, C, D, and F, which are generated from work on many different benchmarks and then averaged mathematically.

The purpose and goal of benchmark and rubric scoring is that the scores assess students’ mastery in specific, well-defined areas. The advantage to students of this system is that they know they must show mastery of the benchmarks to earn strong scores. The advantage to parents is that they know specifically what skills their children have mastered and what skills still need work. At LECS, scores truly reflect students’ skills in each subject area, which keeps everyone focused on learning for mastery!



What is a Rubric? -A Rubric Tool

This Utah Education Network website provides a Rubric definition from Heidi Goodrich Andrade, a rubrics expert, who defines a rubric as "a scoring tool that lists the criteria for a piece of work or 'what counts.' " A Rubric Tool is also featured.



Demonstrating Understanding Rubrics and Scoring Guides

This Intel Teach Program website focuses on understanding rubrics and scoring guides. Project-based learning demands a more progressive means of assessment where students can view learning as a process and use problem-solving strategies to meet or exceed project expectations. Rubrics and scoring guides have been implemented into today’s classrooms to give students a better understanding of what is being assessed, what criteria grades are based upon, and what clear and compelling product standards are addressed. The focus of rubrics and scoring guides is to monitor and adjust progress rather than just to assess the end result.


Needs Assessment and Self-Evaluation

This paper states the needs assessment process can be used as the basis for developing curricula and classroom practice that are responsive to learners’ needs. It encompasses both what learners know and can do and what they want to learn and be able to do. Learners also need opportunities to evaluate what they have learned—to track their progress toward meeting goals they have set for themselves in learning English.

Understanding Rubrics

This ASCD website has archived Educational Leadership's January 1997 Journal, Teaching for Authentic Student Performance, "Understanding Rubrics", which provides a description of what a rubric is, how to create a rubric, and why rubrics are necessary.



Developing Rubrics for Performance Based Assessment

This SEDL/CAL document provides an introduction to Rubrics, rubric design, and how rubrics relate to the grading book.


Performance Assessments for English Language Learners

This Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education study and report describes how performance assessments can help the ELL student population demonstrate what they know and are able to do. Unfortunately, research literature on performance assessments for English language learners is thin, but it offers evidence on the effectiveness and usefulness of performance assessments for these students.

The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and are intended for general reference purposes only. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education or the Center, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Some resources on this site require Adobe Acrobat Reader. This website archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.