With the explosion of Marzano framework for teacher evaluations, and Marzano Scales refocusing classroom instruction, I get a lot of questions from teachers trying to figure out how to write their own scales to meet district or state requirements. A few months ago I wrote about How to Write Specific Marzano Scales, where I detailed my use of content standards (primarily Common Core), and some related resources to align content from previous grade levels to provide the background and foreground for each level of  a scale. I’ve found so much success with this approach because I didn’t have to guess what my students were exposed to last year – I could feel confident that my levels 1 and 2 were skills they would recognize, if not have mastered already. I call this a CONTENT approach to creating a scale.

The problem is, that this strategy only works when the content from previous grade levels relates to yours… for instance, if you teach the Common Core 4th Grade Math standards you may have noticed that angle measurement seems to come out of nowhere, and just as quickly drops off the curriculum until 7th grade. What’s a linear thinker to do if there’s no common thread connecting the curriculum from one grade level to the next?

CONTENT & Cognitive Skills PostsIn addition to aligning CONTENT, you can consider COGNITIVE SKILLS. Cognitive skills are just thinking skills. You may be familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy or Marzano’s Taxonomy which present thinking skills in an organized sequence from easiest to hardest. For me it was easiest to think of the relationship between CONTENT and COGNITIVE SKILLS as NOUNS and VERBS. The content includes the things that students should know, and the cognitive skills include the mental or physical actions that students should be able to do. Below are a few examples of resources I use. These come in handy when I could find no content from previous grade levels to align to my current learning goal.





Depth of Knowledge DOK Levels

Here’s an example of how I used Marzano’s Taxonomy to fill in the blank for level 2 of my 8.F.2. scale. Compare this with Marzano’s Taxonomy – “Comprehension – Symbolizing.”

What do you think? Is it a good fit?

8F2 Marzano Scale for Common Core Math


Some content areas in Common Core are nicely aligned from grade level to grade level, such as ELA, and this makes the cognitive skills approach much easier to use!


3rd-5th RL 1-6

The example below shows how I used Marzano’s taxonomy to develop levels for the 4th grade Reading Standards for Literature number 1 (4RL1) above.  

Level 4 is a”Knowledge Utilization” goal.

Level 3 is the grade-level standard restated in kid-friendlier language.

Level 2 is  a “Comprehension” goal.

Level 1 is a “Retrieval” goal.  

4R1 Marzano Scale for Common Core Reading

If you’re interested in buying a set of pre-made Marzano scales for Math or English Language Arts, please visit MY STORE page and search for the grade level you need under the “Custom Categories” links. In case your district has specific requirements for phrasing, content, or skills at each level, or if your state uses a modified version of Common Core, the complete documents with all standards include editable poster pages so you can tailor them to your own needs. You can also download a FREE PREVIEW to test them out first!

I hope you’ve found this helpful!

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