School Improvement in Maryland

Examining Student Work Discussion

Only when teachers know where their students are in relation to the objectives they are responsible for do they have the information they need to inform instruction. To do that, teachers must

  • Identify characteristics of proficiency on an objective using a specific assignment/assessment
  • Diagnose student strengths and needs on the performance
  • Determine next instructional steps based on the diagnosis

The following discussion by a team of Maryland teachers models the process of defining proficiency, diagnosing student performance and deciding what they need to do next instructionally for their students.

Discussion Participants:

  • Lani Seikaly, facilitator
  • Mark Moody, process observer
photo of Joanna Branham
Joanna Branham
Reading Dept. Chair
Pikesville M.S.
Baltimore County
Public School
photo of Robin Brillante
Robin Brillante
Language Arts Chair
Pikesville M.S.
Baltimore County
Public School
photo of Suzanne Sebastian
Suzanne Sebastian
Reading Teacher
Pikesville M.S.
Baltimore County
Public School

Objective 2.A.4.d

Summarize or paraphrase
Clarification of Indicator and Objectives


Write a summary of the article “Persistence(Acrobat)

Defining Proficiency on this Question

The “Getting on the Same Page” audio records a team of teachers working through the process of reaching consensus on what the team believes constitutes a proficient response on a selected text and question. Only after the team has agreed on what constitutes a proficient response are they able to diagnose student strengths and needs.

Diagnosing Student Strengths and Needs to Inform Instruction

Once proficiency has been defined, the team is ready to examine student performance against your proficiency criteria. The “1st, 2nd, and 3rd classrooms” audio records the team’s examination of the three student responses to determine if the response is proficient, to identify what the student knows and still needs to learn, and to identify instructional next steps.

In this part of the protocol, the team examines three student papers to determine if the response is proficient and to identify strengths, needs and instructional next steps. Teachers may wish to use the handouts of student responses as a professional development activity to practice diagnosing student performance before they listen to the classroom audios.