ND Educators Come Together To Prioritize Standards, Create Proficiency Scales And Sample Assessments for ELA And Math Across All Grades K-12 

SPL August WorkshopsND Educators Come Together to Prioritize Standards, Create Proficiency Scales and Sample Assessments for ELA and Math Across All Grades K-12

A collaborative Standards Professional Learning grant was awarded to four Regional Education Associations (Northeast Education Services Cooperative (NESC), South East Education Cooperative (SEEC), Mid-Dakota Education Cooperative (MDEC), and Missouri River Education Cooperative (MREC) through the ND Department of Public Instruction and has activated nearly 200 educators/individuals in 74 schools across 46* districts/organizations in ND to:

  • Build awareness, understanding, and implementation of the 2017 North Dakota Content Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts and Literacy (ELA) among teachers
  • Increase the use of best, instructional practices in the classroom through professional learning opportunities for teachers and implementation of prioritized standards and proficiency scales
  • Create a foundation for improved assessment practices in North Dakota schools
  • Promote collaboration and sharing of expertise across North Dakota school districts

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.

Big Message Workshops with Phil Warrick

I have enjoyed all of the sessions that I have attended with Dr. Phil Warrick. He presents the content clearly and illustrates it with real examples from real classrooms. It makes the content applicable to the reality that we face in the classroom and he is able to make it useful as well as understandable. His attitude and demeanor in the sessions always give me a sense that I am capable of doing this work, that it is worth doing and I feel energized to begin tackling whatever needs to be done. The sessions are always engaging and the time flies! Truly enjoyable professional development that gets back to the heart of what education is all about – helping students succeed and giving them the tools to have a positive growth mindset.  (Special Ed./Title I Teacher – Fargo – McKinley Elementary School)

Establishing a Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum through Priority Standards and Proficiency Scales Workshop

Feb. 8 (Bismarck) | Feb. 9 (Fargo)

We kicked off this work in February with Dr. Phil Warrick** from Marzano Research holding the Establishing a Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum through Priority Standards and Proficiency Scales” workshop in both Bismarck (34 participants) and Fargo (72 participants) where he engaged individuals in:

  • Learning the process to identify priority standards;
  • Understanding the concept of proficiency scales and how to develop those scales for the prioritized standards; and
  • Exploring how proficiency scales are used instructionally for standards-based teaching and learning.

Dr. Warrick’s message was met with great enthusiasm by ND educators, setting the stage for the intensive work that followed. Cross walking the priority work that had already been completed by several ND districts and writing the corresponding proficiency scales was now manageable and needed,” said LaCosta Potter, SEEC Professional Learning Coordinator.

Using Effective Classroom Assessment to Personalize Student Learning

April 30, 2018 in Jamestown

“The training was excellent and provided great wealth of knowledge along with how does Standard Referenced Grading and how it works. I learned you don’t average the individual score but average the standard summative scores to determine the grade. It provided practice in writing assessments based on the scales.”  (Instructional Coach – Jamestown – Washington Elementary School)

“I am excited that our state has a team put together to create the proficiency scales and assessments. This will help greatly!”  (Teacher – Jamestown – Lincoln Elementary School)

On April 30th we maxed out our venue space with 115 participants registered to come together on in Jamestown and focus on Using Effective Classroom Assessment to Personalize Student Learning! 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 for teaching and learning in the standards-based learning environment. Educators will look at formative and summative assessments as well as three different types that can be used for either formative or summative purposes.

Participants were able to:

  • Learn three types of classroom assessment that can be used to monitor student progress toward proficiency in a priority standard
  • Understand how proficiency scales inform the development of assessments that reflect the correct levels of rigor identified in the standards
  • Explore the use of common assessments in the teaching and learning process
  • Understand the concept of question sequencing as a formative assessment practice

100% of the 74 participants who completed the evaluation reported at least moderate increases in their knowledge with two-thirds (67.6%) indicating substantial increases in their knowledge.

Over 97% reported at least “moderate” increases in their skills, with 56.8% reporting a substantial increase in their skills.

Almost 2/3 (63.5%) indicated that they would be able to apply what they learned “to a great extent”, with 33.8% indicating being able to apply what they learned “to a moderate extent.

100% of respondents felt that what they learned would have at least a moderate impact on their students, with 75.7% reporting it would have a substantial impact.

Professional Learning Educator Workgroups

On February 15 and 16, 29 ELA and Math teachers (including members of the Content Standards Writing Teams for the ND State ELA and Math Standards) representing 21 schools and 18 districts across multiple grade levels came together to identify a common set of prioritized standards. Participants broke into grade span groups (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12) and worked not only incredibly well together, but also collaborated to ensure vertical articulation with the other grade span groups to match priority standards.

Bismarck, Minot, West Fargo and NESC provided sample work they had done for standards and scales.

“We cannot express adequate gratitude to the ND educators that have committed time and energy to this work. The ownership and urgency that this team has brought as they continue the work is admirable,” noted Potter.  

Groups that needed more time outside the facilitated workshop day planned to schedule a work session outside of this pre-set time to complete the work. SEEC and NESC staff supported this decision and helped them find and reserve a centrally located venue for them to meet.

The full group came together again on May 1st to begin the work of creating an assessment bank. Items were aligned to the priority standards and leveled for the proficiency scales.

92.9% of respondents indicated that the prioritized standards document created by the workgroup would enhance the work of educators across grade levels.

85.7% of respondents indicated that the prioritized standards document is in a format that is clear and easy to understand.

“[The final documents] will be invaluable to districts across the state of North Dakota and will most certainly help those smaller districts that are isolated and have few teachers who are able to collaborate together,” (Instructional CoachFargo).

Building Sustainability: Webinar Series

An additional support created is a three-part webinar series with Phil Warrick to capturing the message he provided to the large groups in February and April. These webinars will be great resources for schools when needing to ensure their staff understands how and why the standards were prioritized, the scales were made and how the assessments align.

“Dr. Warrick’s webinars summarizing the importance and implementation of prioritized standards, proficiency scales and quality assessment have been archived and are available to all North Dakota schools through September 2018.  They serve as a great source for professional learning as well as a guide for district decision-making related to curriculum and instruction, shared Erin Lacina, NESC Director of Professional Learning & Operations.

Completed webinars are available on the NDREA website, www.ndrea.org.

  • Webinar #1: Priority Standards (April 18)
    • Learn a process for identifying priority standards for a guaranteed and viable curriculum.
  • Webinar #2: Proficiency Scales (May 7)
    • Understand the concept of proficiency scales and how to develop proficiency scales for priority standards.
    • Explore how proficiency scales are used instructionally for standards-based teaching and learning.
  • Webinar #3: Assessment (June 18)
    • Learn three types of classroom assessment that can be used to monitor student progress toward proficiency in a priority standard.
    • Understand how proficiency scales inform the development of assessments that reflect the correct levels of rigor identified in the standards.
    • Explore the use of common assessments in the teaching and learning process.
    • Understand the concept of question sequencing as a formative assessment practice.

Outcomes & Deliverables

ND Template and Regional SPL Workshops

We are preparing to present the products of the work accomplished by this fantastic group of educators in early August with four regional workshops. Templates of K-12 prioritized standards, proficiency scales and assessments to compliment them will be available either through the new ND Department of Public Instruction OER Commons (Open Education Resources) or via the ND Regional Education Association website, http://www.ndrea.org.

The scheduled workshops will allow for ALL educators across the state to learn how to not only access these materials, but how to use them in their classroom, school, and district. These will be editable tools that can be modified to fit individual needs but provides a starting point to guide educators in the right direction.

Lacina added, “By August 2018, the collaborating REAs will publish K-12 ELA and Math prioritized standards along with the aligned proficiency scales and assessment items for use by any North Dakota educators during the 2018-19 school year.”

Standards, Scales and Assessment Regional Two-Day Workshops  
Aug 6-7 (Bismarck)  |  Aug. 7-8 (Devils Lake)  |  Aug. 8-9 (Fargo)  |  Aug. 13-14 (Minot)


This two-day, Standards, Scales and Assessment workshop will introduce North Dakota educators to new resources available for support of the ND K-12 English Language Arts and Mathematics content standards.  Educators from across the state have worked diligently with the Regional Education Association (REA) throughout the past year to identify the ND Prioritized Standards and to create aligned proficiency scales and assessment items.  This workshop will help participants learn how to access and implement these resources for a guaranteed and viable curriculum and improved assessment practices in their schools.  The workshops will be facilitated by REA staff in four sites across the state.  Educators from all North Dakota schools are welcome! One graduate credit available (pending university approval).


  • Review the North Dakota K-12 English Language Arts and Mathematics Prioritized Standards as identified by ND educators
  • Review proficiency scales and assessment items aligned to the prioritized standards
  • Learn how to use the standards, scales and assessment resources in your classroom for enhanced implementation of the ND ELA and Math standards
  • Learn types of classroom assessment that can be used to monitor student progress toward proficiency in a priority standard
  • Understand how proficiency scales inform the development of assessments that reflect the correct levels of rigor identified in the standards

Beulah, Bismarck, Bowbells, Carrington, Central Valley, Devils Lake, Edmore, Elgin-New Leipzig, Fargo, Fort Yates, Four Winds, Garrison, Glen Ullin, Glenburn, Grafton, Hebron, Jamestown, Kidder County, Larimore, Linton, Mandan, McKenzie County, Mid-Dakota Education Cooperative (MDEC), Minot, Missouri River Educational Cooperative (MREC), Mott-Regent,  Munich, Napoleon, ND Department of Public Instruction, Northeast Education Services Cooperative (NESC), Nesson, New Rockford-Sheyenne, Northern Cass, Oak Grove, Oakes, Richardton-Taylor, Roughrider Education Services Program (RESP), South East Education Cooperative (SEEC), Tate Topa Tribal SchoolValley CityWashburnWest FargoWillistonWilton (Montefiore), Wyndmere.

 Phil Warrick, Ed.D., is associate vice president of Marzano Research, an author and consultant and has worked globally in the areas of school leadership, instruction, collaborative practices, and grading. He was an award-winning administrator in Nebraska for nearly 12 years. He has been an adjunct professor at Peru State College since 2005.


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