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Performance-Level Descriptors


What competency/mastery/proficiency of the competencies looks like at a specific grade level or performance level.


  • Advancement on Mastery
  • Learning Outcomes

Designer's Tips 

"Performance-level descriptors will be a critical piece of your model because they chart out the pathway toward college and career readiness, making transparent what mastery of a competency looks like at each step in the learning progression. For some mastery-based models, performance-level descriptors for all competencies at all performance levels are what make up the rubrics for scoring, feedback, and evaluation of student work.

First and foremost, build on the progress that has been made in the field. Rather than reinvent the wheel, adopt the best examples you can find and revise them over time to meet your needs. There is a growing number of exemplary models of performance descriptors for competencies across subject areas.

Also, consider working toward developing descriptors that are written in student-facing language."

Tips for a Short Implementation Time-Line 

The PARCC PLD's are potentially useful: they are aligned to the Common Core Standards and the PARCC Assessments: http://www.parcconline.org/plds. Similar (but homegrown) PLD's would need to be created for Science and Social Studies...and at some point, the Arts and World Languages.

Curated Resources: This collection of resources from the field includes models and exemplars, as well as “DIY” guidance to facilitate your exploration of this term. 

NH DOE Grade Level Expectations


The New Hampshire DOE, Rhode Island DOE, and Vermont DOE have developed a common set of grade-level expectations, known as the New England Common Assessment Program Grade-Level Expectations (NECAP GLEs), and test specifications in mathematics, reading, and writing. Between the NECAP GLEs and the Common Core Grade Level Expectations articulated by PARCC, designers at the beginning of this work may find it's more efficient to adopt and adapt, than it is to invent a new wheel!

Resource Type 

  • Tool

Publishing Organization 

New Hampshire Department of Education

Type of Organization 

  • Government Organization


Performance-Level Descriptors
Performance-Level Indicators
Learning Expectations
Learning Objective