What is a proficiency based assessment system?

A proficiency based assessment system is means of measuring learning by using standards to determine a student’s level of knowledge for a particular standard.  Students meet proficiency by demonstrating their understanding and meeting of the skills and subject knowledge associated with each learning standard.

How do I meet proficiency?

Learning standards for each unit have been created using the Oregon Science Standards and Next Generation Science Standards in Biology or IB standards for IB Biology.  Unit standards will be presented throughout each unit as well as in each packet or online on the website.  At the end of each unit in this course, students must demonstrate they have met learning standards by meeting the requirements of the associated rubric; this applies to both meeting and exceeding proficiency.

Can I exceed proficiency?

Yes, students can exceed proficiency.   Each standard has levels of meets and exceeds on the particular content area.  Exceeds standards require an increased level of critical thinking (higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy).

How is proficiency assessment different than a traditional A-F grading scale? 

Proficiency assessment is different than A-F grading scale because it directly uses learning standards to measure student knowledge and learning on a level of proficiency of the particular learning standard.  Students will meet or exceed learning standards which are then translated to letter grades (see below).

Wait, will I receive letter grades on my transcript?

Yes, final grades will be calculated using an A-C, F scale.  Students that meet proficiency, as described above, for all unit standards will receive a C letter grade.  Letter grades of A and B can be achieved by meeting the requirements as outlined in the table below.  Students must meet proficiency for all unit standards in a semester in order to pass Biology.  If a student does not meet proficiency for a standard, their grade will remain an incomplete until proficiency is met or the end of the semester.  At the end of a semester an incomplete will be changed to an F letter grade.

Final grades will be determined in the following manner for Biology per semester:

To earn an A

To earn a B

To earn a C

8 Exceeds Standards & 8 Meets Standards

5 Exceeds Standards & 11 Meets Standards

16 Meets Standards

Final grades will be determined in the following manner for IB Biology:

To earn an A

To earn a B

To earn a C

To earn a D

Complete at least the following:

  • Exceed proficiency (4) on 9 standards
  • Meet proficiency (3) on  9 standards.
  • No standards at Nearly Meets or Beginning (1)

Complete at least the following:

  • Exceed proficiency (4) on 6 standards
  • Meet proficiency (3) on  12 standards.
  • No standards at Nearly Meets or Beginning (1)

Complete at least the following:

  • Meet proficiency ( 3) on 18 standards
  • No standards at Nearly Proficient (2) or Beginning (1)

Complete at least the following:

  • Exceed or Meet proficiency (4 or 3) on 12 standards
  • No more than 6 standards at Nearly Proficient.
  • No standards at Beginning (1)

What about daily assignments and homework?

Class work, labs and activities are designed to help students prepare for the unit assessments.  For both Biology and IB Biology students will also learn and develop their inquiry based investigation and experimental design skills.  These separate Science Standards will be assessed on most class labs or activities.  These standards are based on the Next Generation Science Standards and IB Biology Lab Standards.  

Over the course of the semester each of these standards will be assessed multiple times for their respective courses.  The final semester assessment for each standard will be based upon the mode (most recurring proficiency level) for cumulative body of work.

Why is proficiency grading being used? 

Proficiency is being used in these courses because it provides an improved opportunity for students to demonstrate what they know and are able to do.  Additionally, students take more responsibility for their own learning of standards and the course overall.  Finally, parents and guardians have a more clear understanding of their student’s academic progress in specific topics and learning standards.  This is made possible because each assessment is directly correlated to learning standards.  Recent research has shown the value of proficiency based assessment; Scappoose High School found an improvement of over 30% within four years after beginning the program.

If I don’t meet proficiency on the assessment, what happens?

If proficiency is not met on the unit assessment on the first attempt, students will be provided  additional opportunities to meet proficiency; two additional assessments will be provided in IB Biology.  For example, if the unit assessment is a test and proficiency is not met on the first attempt, the student will have the opportunity to retake a different form of the test to meet proficiency after demonstrating additional practice and studying.  Before doing so students will be required to complete test corrections, review with the teacher, or other means in order to prepare.  If a student does not meet proficiency by the third attempt a meeting will be required with the teacher in order to arrange an alternative assessment.  Proficiency is expected to be met within two weeks of the original assessment date or by the end of the quarter, whichever is less.  Students in Biology will be expected to correct and fix any portions of the assessment that have not yet met proficiency.  The primary goal for the proficiency assessment models is for all students to meet proficiency of the learning standards.

How will my grade look in Synergy?

Student performance on assessments tied to academic standards/learning targets will be reported using the following scale:

Proficiency Level


Exceeds (E)


Meets (M)


Nearly Meets (N)


Beginning (B)


Not Attempted


Each assignment Synergy will be a semester standard.  As assessments for each standard are completed, a student’s proficiency level will be recorded as one of the previous indicators to demonstrate their level of understanding of that standard.  

What are the Science Standards?

The Science Standards are additional skills students must master in science in order to form, develop, perform, and analyze questions and experiments. These skills will be used and assessed in this course over the course of the entire semester.  IB Biology Science Standards are taken directly from the IB Subject Guide for Experiments and Internal Assessments.  Science Standards for Biology will include topics of Planning & Evaluation and Data Analysis & Technology.

For further information on proficiency based assessment: