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Understanding Proficiency

Understanding Proficiency was a project that supports educators in collaborating with colleagues to learn from student work on performance tasks.

The Understanding Proficiency website provided resources for supporting close analysis of student work on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) performance tasks, thereby building a deeper understanding of how students handle the demands of these summative tasks. At the center of the resources are samples of real student work on the Smarter Balanced Practice Test performance tasks. The student work samples provided an illustration of proficiency across the range of score levels possible for each task.    

What you’ll find on the website:

  • Examples of student responses to SBAC ELA/Literacy performance tasks — administered, scored and annotated by teachers — for all score levels and for all tested grades (grades 3–8 and 11)
  • Case studies that provide a deeper analysis of individual students’ work across the questions in the performance tasks, including some from English Learners
  • Teacher reflections on the set of student work from their own classes
  • Videos featuring educators engaged in scoring and analyzing student work
  • Professional development activities to support educators in leveraging these resources for their own learning 


Understanding Proficiency is a partnership between UL/SCALE and WestEd, and is generously supported by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.