Of late, I have been on thinking a LOT about criteria for success thanks to my colleague Cathy Dickson. She came upon an Open Up Facebook post and noticed that teachers have different interpretations of success criteria.

Our understanding of success criteria is different than what the two teachers describe. Since our district offers both Skillful Teacher and more recently High Impact Teacher Teams, through Research for Better Teaching, this is where my understanding is rooted. Anyway, in order to discuss success criteria we need to have a common understanding. For me it is either an oral or written description of what success looks like. Students refer to the criteria when completing a task and refer to it again for reflection. This post focuses on providing written success criteria.

Having a criteria for success (CfS) is becoming more and more apparent to me, and we are beginning to discuss them in our PLC’s. For example, after an assessment last week one of the 8th grade teachers asked students to reflect on their performance. The question was open ended and later we were wondering if a CfS would have provided focus.

Writing CfS isn’t as easy as it seems–especially when your resource is problem based. What attributes should be included? Have I accounted for multiple ways of problem solving? When should the criteria include a checklist for procedural fluency and when should it be written for conceptual understanding?

Technically every lesson should have success criteria, but who has time for that. If you read this blog you know we are piloting the Open Up resource. Writing CfS hasn’t been on my radar but I needs to be. When we ask students to perform a task then reflect on their learning, either through a cool down or formative assessment, they need to know the criteria for success.

I wanted some practice writing CfS so I spent some time drafting one for this 8th grade Unit 4 Lesson 13 cooldown only to have another colleague suggest the cooldown may not meet the lesson objective. The actual learning targets for the lesson are:

- I can graph a system of equations.
- I can solve systems of equations using algebra.

If you’ve already taught this lesson let me know your thoughts. Anyway, after going through the lesson I am wondering if these learning targets might be a better match for the cooldown:

- I can identify the number of solutions to a system from a graph.
- I can write a system of equations from a graph.

Here’s the cooldown:

Since no intervals are provided the response it is a bit more open ended so the criteria needs to account for that. Below is a draft. The green column indicates what the student would initially be provided on the first look. In yellow is the feedback the student would receive for self assessment purposes. Afterwards students would turn it in to the teacher or place them in bins similar to what Morgan Stipe does in her classroom.

This cooldown lends itself to providing feedback that, I think, requires little explanation so students can simply read the yellow portion to determine which feedback applies to them. This is a work in progress so I’m sure I’ve missed something. Let me know.

Also, if you’ve created CfS for or with your students I would love to learn more about it.