Clarifying the Difference Between Proficiency Scales and Rubrics

Right here. Right now. A quick overview of the differences between proficiency scales and rubrics – and my proficiency scale rubric.


In districts and schools throughout the country, staff members have worked to develop proficiency scales to help make learning expectations clearer for students. And that’s a good thing. As a part of this process, it’s natural for those working to make proficiency scales to have many questions as they wrap their heads around this work. One of the questions that comes up is that of the difference between a proficiency scale and a rubric. You may have had that question as well; it may even be your question! I want to share how I explain the difference between a proficiency scale and a rubric, in hopes the explanation may be useful to someone else.

The difference between a proficiency scale and a rubric is an important distinction to be able to make, so I’ve captured the key differences in the following chart – and also provided a couple of examples. (There’s a link to this handout at the bottom of this post.)

So, there you have it – a few ideas showing some of the differences between a proficiency scale and a rubric. If you provide training in designing proficiency scales and need a tool to help others develop a high-quality scale, this rubric might be useful to you.

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