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What Are Developmental Scales?

Developmental scales are another feature unique to the Learning Record. In understanding and accounting for student progress and achievement, we look at what students know and can do, rather than their presumed deficits. Developmental scales are unlike rubrics or other forms of ranking and sorting, which establish an "ideal" performance or standard, and lesser levels progressively below the ideal until the lowest level on the scale describes a learner bereft of any qualities. This deficit-based model diminishes the dignity and worth of the entire range of stages in learners' development.

Developmental scales have been constructed with an entirely different perspective. Recognizing that there are indeed stages of development and achievement learners move through as they gain mastery, each level of a developmental scale describes observable patterns of activity typical of students moving through a particular stage. These descriptions focus on five dimensions of learning: confidence and independence, knowledge and understanding, skills and strategies, use of prior and emerging experience, and reflectiveness.

Note: While there are tested and validated scales for K-12 students in reading and writing, it is unlikely that similar college-level scales can be developed because of the enormous diversity of experiences and levels of development, age, and skills among college students in any particular class.

Since all learning is inherently positive movement, we can describe these patterns of activity in positive terms at each stage of development. They are based on thousands of hours of observation and interpretation, and have been validated for different age levels. The scales serve an important function in allowing the aggregation of performance and achievement data for assessment beyond the classroom level: across schools, regions, or even internationally. This is accomplished through moderation readings, a process unique to the learning record model.

A rationale for Developmental Scales from Mary Barr >>

There are three reading scales covering reading development from K-12:

Writing scales for K-12 were also developed under the auspices of the Center for Language in Learning.

What is the relationship between the Learning Record and established performance standards? >>

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