Designing the assessment

When designing assessment, success criteria will summarise the key ingredients or processes that link directly to the learning goals/ intentions. They articulate the main things to do, to include and to focus on.

Success criteria can be expressed as process and/or product criteria, depending on the learning being covered and could include a sequence of instructions or a list of ‘remember to’ prompts. Success criteria need to be concrete, measurable, observable and open to negotiation.

Success criteria:

  • are closely linked to the learning intention
  • show the students what they are aiming for and how to get there
  • support students to self and peer assess, independent of the teacher and in ways that are not always reliant on teacher judgement
  • make it clear to students what it is they are going to be judged or evaluated on
  • give students something to refer to when they want to check if they are on track or not
  • are specific to the activity and will vary with each activity, even if the activities share a common learning intention
  • are agreed with the pupils in advance
  • encourage responsibility and independence by scaffolding peer and self-assessment
  • are revisited and used to provide pupils with feedback on their learning (this feedback can be provided by both teacher and other students).

Here is an example of how to approach producing effective success criteria, using:

  • learning intention: we are learning to write a narrative
  • context: a ghost story
  • activity: writing a ghost story.

Example 1: What I am looking for?

  • a story that people enjoy reading
  • a story that frightens people.

The criteria in example 1 are not success criteria because they focus on reaction rather than guidance on how to achieve the effect.

Example 2: What I am looking for?

  • an opening paragraph that sets the scene
  • a build-up of tension/ suspense
  • spooky adjectives and powerful verbs
  • a cliff-hanger at the end.

The success criteria in example 2 give students the key ingredients needed to show that they fulfil the learning intention. If they can do these things, then they have shown they understand how to write a narrative.

Examples of success criteria

Learning goal/ intention Context Activity Success criteria

Writing persuasively using different techniques

Culling of kangaroos

Writing a letter to the local MP

What am I looking for:

  • a statement of your viewpoint
  • a number of reasons for this with evidence
  • a number of reasons from an alternative standpoint
  • attempts at evoking empathy with the recipient
  • recommended alternative action
  • a summary
  • reasoning connectives.

To share quantities


Completing a worksheet

What am I looking for:

  • add the parts eg. 2:3 2+3+5
  • write each ratio as a fraction 2/5 : 3/5
  • multiply each fraction by the whole eg. 2/5 of 20.

To know ways of controlling drought

Savannah grassland

Compiling a table

What I am looking for:

  • list the different causes of drought
  • explain how these could be reduced
  • list your recommendations for how people can cope and live with drought
  • make comparisons with drought in Australia.

To present an argument

Healthy eating

Giving a speech

Remember to:

  • include opening and closing statements
  • give reasons for and against
  • use evidence to support use of language to persuade.

To calculate the passing of time in 5-minute intervals

Reading clock faces

Completing p.34 of textbook

Remember to:

  • count from the minute hand
  • stop where the minute hand finishes
  • count in fives
  • go clockwise.

To write an effective introduction for apiece of persuasive writing


Writing an introductory paragraph about the effects of racism

What I am looking for:

  • an opening statement defines the topic
  • a ‘hook’ for the reader e.g. rhetorical question, controversial statement, quotation
  • the writer’s opinion
  • a general statement about the content of the essay.

A model or exemplar provides students with an opportunity to see what the learning might look like and to discuss and discern what ‘quality’ is, or is not.

The modelling or exemplar can be used to co-construct success criteria with students.

Rubrics are based on a number of levels or performance descriptors that successively work towards high achievement and link to the success criteria for the learning intention/goal.

It is a good idea to involve students in developing assessment rubrics and to display them throughout the learning experience so that students can keep in mind the criteria for completing a task successfully.

A rubric identifies:

  • criteria: the aspects of performance (for example, argument, evidence, clarity) that will be assessed
  • descriptors: the characteristics associated with each dimension (for example, the argument is demonstrable and original, evidence is diverse and compelling)
  • performance levels: a rating scale that identifies students’ level of mastery within each criterion.

Some rubrics describe 3 levels of performance; others have more. The terminology used in the descriptors will differ but what matters is that the rubric makes the levels of performance clear for both teachers and students.

Rubrics can be used to support both teaching and learning: a 3-level rubric with performance levels such as Yes I can; Almost; Not yet can guide what is taught during modelled, guided and independent teaching.

If most students are in the Not yet descriptor, further modelled teaching needs to occur for those students, the students who are in the Almost descriptor require further guided support, while the students in Yes I can should be practising and applying the learning or moving to new learning.

Whatever the terminology used within the rubric, it is important to apply the terminology consistently and explain exactly what it means. For example:

  • when prompted might include: a reminder to check a wall chart, a quick review, a reminder to think about previous learning
  • I need help might mean: I have not got the concept yet, I need further modelled teaching when you/someone sits with me and takes me through it, I can do it
  • a scaffold could include a template, a worksheet, a wall chart, a mind map
  • most/usually means approximately 75% of the time
  • some/sometimes means approximately 50% of the time
  • few/occasionally means approximately 25% of the time
  • when deciding on performance levels, try thinking of the words - yes, yes-but, no-but, and no - to create your gradations.

Ideally, the rubric should include the learning goal/ intention and the success criteria with performance descriptors/ levels of performance. This could form an individual recording sheet.

Rubric examples

Global learning intention Specific learning intentions Success criteria Not yet Almost Yes I can
To write an information report Research information

- locate relevant information

- read and locate key words and ideas and write them in your book

- organise information into headings.


The rubric to accompany the recording sheet (above) might look like this:

Research information Not yet Almost Yes I can
Locate relevant information using books and the internet Information doesn't fit with the topic. Either books or internet used to locate information. Information fits with the topic. Both books and the internet used to locate information. Information fits with the topic.
Read and locate key words and ideas and write them in your book Slab copying or only 1 or 2 key words recorded. Some key words and ideas recorded. All important key words and ideas recorded.
Organise information into headings Few key words organised, headings inappropriate. Key words and ideas organised under inappropriate headings or only some key words and ideas organised under headings. All key words and ideas organised under appropriate headings.

Note: useful guidance on writing performance descriptors for rubrics can be found on the Rubistar website.

Display Success Criteria

Success criteria can be displayed for students as in the following examples:

Global learning intention: To write an information report
Specific learning intention: To research information
Success criteria:

Locate relevant information using booklets and the internet:

  • read and locate key words and ideas and write them in your book
  • organise information into headings.
We are learning: To represent data on a line graph.
To be successful, we will need to:
  • Mark and label axes on the graph
  • Use an appropriate and even scale
  • Plot the information accurately
  • Give the graph a label/ title.
Return to top of page Back to top