One of the areas of the formative assessment process that I still need to do much thinking around and work in, is the area of Learning Targets. We know that Learning Targets are crucial in the formative assessment process and they are how we address the question "Where are we going in our learning?" They need to be effectively communicated to students and they need to come from the Standards we have adopted in our states/districts/buildings.
But for me, creating those learning targets is still a muddy work in progress. And when I add in all the information from various formative assessment gurus (Dylan Wiliam, Susan Brookhart, Connie Moss, Rick Stiggins, etc.) I often find myself more confused than when I began. How do Learning Progressions differ from Learning Targets? Should Learning Targets be specific to one lesson, one day, one unit? And where does Success Criteria come into the equation? Do I set Success Criteria for every Learning Target? This seems so exhausting, especially when I consider that I often find my Learning Targets need revision depending on the needs of my students.
In February of 2016, I attended a conference about Learning Targets led by Susan Brookhart. So this post, and my thinking around Learning Targets, Progressions, and Success Criteria are highly influenced by her work. I created the following graphic to represent my understanding. (Susan Brookhart has a graphic that is nearly the same as mine and I would have used hers with credit, but can't find it in a shareable format.)
What This Looks Like In Practice
I teach two classes of Reading Intervention, one of 12 sixth graders, and one of 9 seventh and eighth graders. Because their testing showed they were all close to each other in skill levels, I chose to work with just a couple of Common Core Informational Reading Standards.
Standard 1 is a foundational Standard that says students should be able to "Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text."
To make this Standard accessible to my students, I created Learning Targets, which in my mind are also Learning Progressions in that the targets are progressively higher order thinking skills. So my Learning Targets for this Informational Reading Standard 1 are:
1.1 I can annotate text to show close reading.
1.2 I can find answers explicitly in text.
1.3 I can make logical inferences from the text to answer questions.
1.4 I can draw conclusions from the text.
1.5 I can cite evidence to support my conclusions.
So, in the graphic above, I have completed the top right quadrant. As I think about each individual Learning Target, I think about what will be the Performance of Understanding (bottom left quadrant) for each of those targets, and then for each of those Performances of Understanding, I create Success Criteria or Student Look-Fors (top left quadrant.)
So, for Learning Target 1.1: I can annotate text to show close reading, the Performance of Understanding would be an article that the student has annotated. That means I need to have Success Criteria for annotation. This actually became quite detailed and is aligned to many of our Learning Targets in the class. Here is my Success Criteria for Close Reading and Annotation:
I have since changed the title of each page to First Level Reading, Second Level Reading, and Third Level Reading. This is because my struggling readers often need several readings just to comprehend. So most of them aren't ready for the Success Criteria of a second reading until they have read the article at least twice. Calling it the Levels of reading has made a lot of sense to them. (For some reason, the second and third pages of the document don't seem to show up. If that is the case, and if you want the other pages, here is the Link to Annotation Success Criteria Document.)
Much of my Curriculum for these two classes revolves around Close Reading. Annotating is the Performance of Understanding that makes their thinking visible, so the Success Criteria aligned to the Annotation makes sense to the students and to me. And the cross reference of the Success Criteria to the Learning Targets makes it easy for student to understand why they are engaging in the specific annotation activities.
In addition to having the Success Criteria in their binders to refer to, I also have these anchor charts created and laminated for students to use at their desks. These anchor charts are about the size of a baseball card.
So that is some of my thinking and work around Learning Targets and Success Criteria. My formative assessment team has done a lot of talking about this topic. We try to do this work together and to help each other out. We are finding that creating Success Criteria for math seems to be especially challenging. We'd love to have bigger conversations around this. If you would like to share how you develop Learning Targets and Success Criteria in other content areas or if you have any thoughts, ideas, or questions, leave a comment!