Tool: Using a standards-based analysis protocol
Purpose of this tool:
This tool provides a standards-based protocol for analyzing student work.
A protocol is a carefully planned and structured way of examining student work with one’s colleagues. Protocols are
helpful because they force attention on learning as much as possible by disrupting the tendency to move directly to evaluation
and advice. Protocols specify who speaks when and who listens when. They clearly distinguish between describing and judging, and between advising
and giving feedback. As such, protocols provide a structure that helps
reduce the anxiety teachers can experience when sharing their students’
work with others. Student work can reveal both what teachers have and have not accomplished. By structuring analysis and talk,
protocols keep the focus on teachers learning from the work rather than
judging students and each other.
How to use this tool:
Group members should review the protocol before the meeting so that they
are prepared to engage in its various steps. Since teachers encounter
a range of problems of practice as they work with particular students
and in their unique school contexts, your group may want to consider using
other protocols. You can find these in the sources
listed at the bottom of this page. Adapt this protocol and others to meet
your specific needs.
for analyzing student work
The central goals of a standards-based
approach to analyzing student work with colleagues is to help teachers:
1) assess their instruction by identifying the gaps between their students’
learning and local/state learning standards, and 2) develop approaches
that will help all their students meet the standards. This approach encourages
teachers to use standards as a tool for conversation and reflection rather
than as prescriptions or mandates. By having teachers engage with the
standards, it encourages them to construct shared understandings of
the standards and their shared critiques.
The presenting teacher comes
to the meeting with an assignment and student work samples. The
teacher begins by sharing the assignment materials. These can include
assignment sheets and other relevant materials. The teacher describes
how the assignment fits into the larger instructional unit or yearlong
curriculum and provides information on the students and any relevant
The group analyzes the demands
of the assignment. Teachers consider what students have to know
and be able to do to complete the assignment successfully and what difficulties
students are likely to encounter.
The group then identifies
the state and/or local learning standards that apply to the assignment. The presenting teacher should share the rubric or scoring guide that s/he used to evaluate the student work. The group examines the rubric
and compares it to the learning standards.
The group moves next to examine
the samples of student work. The presenting teacher should bring
a set of students’ work that ranges from below standards to exceeds
standards. Teachers examine the
work using both the learning standards and the teacher’s rubric
to identify where the gaps between the standards and the students’
performances lie to determine the difficulties students appear to have
had in completing the assignment, to determine students’ engagement
in the assignment and to assess the quality of the teachers’ assessment
plan. The group can use the Analyzing
student work grid for this task.
Based on their analysis of the student
work, the teachers generate ideas that the presenting
teacher can use to revise the assignment, to address students’ learning
difficulties and to plan for future instruction.
See also the Agenda for a standards-based discussion of student work.
Sources for other protocols:
McDonald, J.P., Mohr, N., Dichter, A., & McDonald, E.C. (2003).
The Power of Protocols. New York: Teachers College Press, 27-28. The
National School Reform Faculty
Annenberg Institute for School Reform
at Brown University. Tools
for school improvement and Looking
at student work
Northwest Regional Educational Lab. (2003). Listening to student voices.
Coalition for Essential Schools. Looking collaboratively at student work: An essential toolkit by Kathleen Cushman.