Are you using Learning Scales and wondering why you aren’t seeing amazing student growth? Marzano’s research (2009) claims that, “Tracking Learning Goals and Scoring Scales” is a strategy that can produce student gains of up to 34 percentile points!  So what’s the problem?  Well, he also says that this is a “high probability” strategy. That means that there are no guarantees that your students will produce these gains. Everything depends on the teacher’s “expertise” in implementing the strategy. Read on to find out what you can do to make it work for you!

“There are no high-yield instructional strategies; there are only high-probability strategies. The simple presence or absence of an instructional strategy does not define effectiveness, but it is rather the teacher’s expertise in adapting that strategy to the classroom within the context of lesson segments that produces gains in student achievement.” – Marzano (2009)

If success depends on the teacher, then we still have to learn how to do this. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as throwing up a general scale on the wall and having your students hold up their fingers to indicate their level. He had something much more specific in mind!

Focus on presentation, posting, and assessing!


1.  Make it Visible! Once you have your specific Marzano scales written, posting them allows your students to have a visual reference to the scale every day! The poster will be a visual reminder to you and to them of what the goal is. Refer to the scale every day that you work on that topic so that the repetition becomes ingrained in their minds! This familiarity gives students the confidence to assess their own level and look towards the next step.

2. Pre-asses the first day! After presenting new Marzano scale, post it and pre-assess your students so all of you have an idea of where they are starting. Referring to a scale does nothing if your students don’t know where they are. Part of what makes scales effective in advancing student progress is that the students themselves become active participants in their own goals and evaluation. Scales give them access to the curriculum on their level, so they can take ownership!

You can pre-assess math skills a couple of different ways. Start by giving your students specific examples of each level.

2nd Math LG-S Posters 2OA1 2nd









Your students can hold up fingers to estimate what level they are on, you can give them a few quiz problems to see if they can complete a task at grade level, or you can give them a full blown assessment.

(For examples of Math Assessments with Learning Goals and Scales, visit Mrs. L’s Leveled Learning FREEBIES)

The pre-assessments also help you decide what to plan for that week, and give you some documentation to work from. Decide if you’re skipping lessons, reviewing previous grade content, or breaking up your class into differentiated groups.

3. Track progress in some visual way! I started using weekly reflection sheets where students would copy the learning goal from the board, estimate what level they were on, and then write where they ended that day. This helped me get started. I later developed the Student Portfolio binder pages where the kids could color in boxes to show their progress, write reflections (for older kids), and file away tests and projects that showed their mastery. This is the part and gets kids excited about their accomplishments and motivated to move forward!

5th Post Assess Coloring5th Post Assess Goals & Binder









I hope you found some helpful ideas to make Marzano scales work for you. Thanks for stopping by!

For more ideas or Marzano scales already made for YOU visit Mrs. L’s Leveled Learning store.


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