Develop and Evaluate High-Achieving Teachers: Create a Learning Progression for Measuring Student Outcomes

Black female teacher wearing glasses smiles at the camera with three smiling high school students behind her.

All of the top achievers I know are lifelong learners… looking for new skills, insights and ideas. If they’re not learning, they’re not growing…not moving toward excellence.

– Denis Waitley

This education scale should be designed for teachers by teachers and can be used schoolwide or districtwide.

A learning progression, also called the Novice–Expert Continuum, is a unique framework that captures the evolution of students’ learning processes as they progress from following procedural rules to generating novel and creative products and responses to problems.

This model allows for the assessment of student performance in a way that provides actionable information that teachers and students can use to increase the development of cognitive strategies. Moreover, developing and evaluating teachers through this learning progression ensures their professional development and assessment are directly connected to student success.

Create a Team of High-Achieving Teachers

It’s recommended that schools include as many teachers as possible from a wide array of subject matters in creating a shared vision. However, it may be unrealistic to engage all these teachers at one time. Larger school communities may wish to hold several sessions or convene focus groups to get a wide variety of viewpoints. We suggest you work with teachers from your school/district directly, rather than hiring outside professionals.

  • Consider the following questions:
    • How will you bring in diverse perspectives?
    • What systems and structures does your school already have in place to hear from teachers?
    • What new strategies might you try?

Create a Document to Foster Shared Language

To ensure all teachers are on the same page, we encourage small groups to design common language outlined in a document for distribution among staff. This allows for a smoother rollout of your initiative.

Label Your Learning Progression

Decide in small groups how your school or district will identify your novice to expert continuum. As an example, the Anaheim Union High School District (example in the resource box above) chose:

Emerging Progressing Excelling

Integrate Into the Classroom

In small groups, design teaching strategies to rollout your initiative and ensure its success.

Teacher Ambassadors

Encourage the high achieving teachers initially brought in for this initiative to be ambassadors for the program at a schoolwide or districtwide level. These teachers will be considered the “early adopters.”


Consider integrating this process into your grading system to replace the traditional ABCDF model.

Positive Language

When writing your learning progression, avoid negative based language while focusing on language that describes growth and opportunity to improve. The emphasis should be placed on asset based language.

Anaheim Union High School District Example

The PDF in the resource box above provides an example of a school implementing a learning progression for measuring student outcomes with their rollout of the 5Cs. Below are simplified versions of the steps above that helped them successfully create the initiative.

  1. The Anaheim Union School District put together a team of approximately 40 high-achieving teachers from every subject department to brainstorm and create the initiative.
  2. The team of teachers, with the help of Inflexion, created common language around their 5Cs initiative: Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Character and Compassion. The PDF linked above slowly came together.
  3. They chose: Emerging Progressing Excelling
  4. Teachers created activities to promote the 5Cs. Examples of these activities can be found at the bottom of each page of the attached PDF in the “Classrooms” box.

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