• [This concept is adapted from an article in ASCD Educational Leadership (Reference 1)].
  • Share your state's content standards with students so they understand what they should know and be able to do. You might have to reword standards to be more student-friendly. Students can mark their progress towards meeting learning goals and (hopefully) take some ownership of their learning.
  • List the unit content standards along with four levels of proficiency:
  • * Recall: knowledge of facts, definitions, simple procedures, formulas
  • * Conceptual understanding: knowledge of principles and the ability to apply them in routine situations
  • * Problem solving: the ability to reason, plan, use evidence, and apply abstract thinking in novel situations
  • * Extended and strategic thinking: the ability to apply understanding to extended, novel and complex tasks
  • Students can periodically check-off progress towards proficiency.
  • Better yet - have parents do this at Open House and play "Are You Smarter Than A __th Grader."


  • Benchmarking.gif


  1. Joan Herman and Eva Bake, "Making Benchmark Testing Work," Educational Leadership. 63:3 (November 2005).
  2. MCREL standards (fairly student-friendly, but very broad)