In creating the benchmark rubrics, the committee adapted the four-point-scale rubric development process described by Robert Marzano (Transforming Classroom Grading, 2000). School review teams will receive maximum benefit from using the descriptors in the four levels of each benchmark rubric to self-assess local school performance by approaching the rubrics in this way:
Begin with Level 3: Fully Meet the Benchmark
Level 3 is designed to provide a clear and specific description of what is present, observable and measurable in a school that fully meets the Benchmark. Often, the “fully meets” descriptors in the rubrics essentially restate the Benchmark itself since the Benchmarks were formulated precisely to describe what we expect to find in place in an effective Catholic school. For some Benchmarks, additional descriptors for Level 3 may be added to the original Benchmark statement. A school operating at this level gives evidence that all elements identified in the Benchmark are present and functioning well. This is the starting point for the team review of school performance on this Benchmark.
Next, review the descriptors in Level 4: Exceeds the Benchmark
Level 4 is designed to provide a clear and specific description of what is present, observable and measurable in a school that exceeds the Benchmark. A school operating on the “exceeds” level gives evidence that all elements identified in the Benchmark (Level 3) are not only present and functioning well, they are present and functioning on an exemplary level—more effectively, more consistently, more seamlessly integrated, could be a model for other schools. The descriptors in Level 4 will give reviewers valuable information about what needs to be present if the school exceeds the Benchmark, which also clarifies in greater detail what evidence a school can present to show their level of implementation of this Benchmark. If a school is not yet at Level 4 on the Benchmark, these descriptors contribute to setting goals and action plans for growth.
Review the descriptors in Level 2: Partially Meets the Benchmark
Level 2 is designed to provide a clear and specific description of what is present, observable and measurable in a school that partially meets the Benchmark. A school operating on the “partially meets” level gives evidence that some but not all elements identified in the Benchmark are present and/or some or all elements present are functioning at a beginning, emerging or marginal level. Reviewing the information in Level 2 also gives the review team additional details about what should be present in the school to score at Level 3, and points to relevant evidence needed to verify a score of 3.
Finally, review the descriptors in Level 1: Does Not Meet the Benchmark
Level 1 is designed to provide a clear and specific description of what is present, observable and measurable in a school that does not meet the Benchmark. A school operating on the “does not meet” level gives evidence that none of the elements identified in the Benchmark (Level 3) are present and functioning well. As with the information provided in the other Levels, the information in Level 1 helps review teams clarify what must be present, minimally in Level 2 and then beyond, also pointing to evidence needed for verifying the school’s level score on the Benchmark.
Using these rubrics, schools can gather data about their performance on several levels:
- They can self-assess their performance in relation to a specific Benchmark. (For example, Benchmark 1.1 or 1.2, etc.)
- They can cluster all of the Benchmark self-assessed performances for a single Standard to rate performance on the Standard as a whole. (For example, use scores from Benchmarks 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, and 1.5 to rate performance on Standard 1)
- They can cluster the Standards and Benchmarks performance in a specific domain to identify broader areas of strength and areas of needed improvement. (For example, use scores from all the Benchmarks in Standards 1, 2, 3, and 4 to rate performance in the domain of Mission and Catholic Identity.)
The resultant knowledge of where the school is in relation to the goal (delineated by the Standards and Benchmarks) serves as a solid, data-supported basis for school improvement planning, resource allocation and professional development. The more extensive the evidence presented and used to justify scores on the rubrics, the more powerful and significant the results of self-assessment will be in directing change and empowering growth.