Success Criteria

Teacher Support Notes for Developing Success Criteria with your class

School Effectiveness Framework, 2010 definition of Success Criteria:

Success Criteria are standards or specific descriptions of successful attainment of learning goals co-constructed by teachers and students or developed by teachers and discussed and agreed upon in collaboration with students. They are used to determine to what degree a learning goal has been achieved and should reflect the categories in the achievement chart. Criteria describe what success “looks like”, and allow the teacher and student to gather information about the quality of student learning.

Before you and your class co-create success criteria:

  1. Teacher Notes: Prepare notes to help you with the success criteria you envision your class will help co-construct. Having the criteria in mind before you meet with the class is necessary. You know what the progression of lessons has looked like, you know which learning goals have been achieved, and you know where you and the class are headed.
  2. Timing: Plan on blocking about 30-40 minutes for the co-construction session.
  3. Bang for your Buck: Plan to create success criteria that can be used multiple times by students. Develop success criteria that respond to your students’ greatest areas of need in the curriculum.
  4. Quality Control: Think about the quality of the success criteria you want to develop and whether it will move students towards higher-order thinking skills such as analyzing, evaluating and creating. Ask yourself the question, “Could my students meet all the success criteria and still give me work that is below the provincial standard?”
  5. Familiarity: Co-constructing success criteria works best if students have already worked with the material and had some previous lessons associated with the material. Every student should come to the co-construction lesson with ideas about how to contribute.

During the co-construction session with your class:

  1. Criterion Tracker: Grade fives and up: Before the discussion begins, assign one student to be mindful of any repetitious criteria or to look for criteria that could be consolidated. Tell that student that you will be asking him/her for his ideas near the end of the session. (Other students will now also be attending to this job!)
  2. Learning Goals Inform: Ask all students to think about learning goals, anchor charts and exemplars that are already up around the room that may be of help in developing the success criteria.
  3. Revision: Tell the students that the development of the success criteria will require reorganization, editing and may need augmentation. It is a working document for you and your class.
  4. Team Effort: Every student should come to the co-construction session with something to share from previous class work. Success criteria that you want included but students fail to mention could first be discussed and/or clarified by “turn and talk” and then sharing. Ask for contributions by asking specific students rather than asking for hands. This guarantees that all levels of students make suggestions. If a student draws a blank even after sufficient wait time, get help from another student and then go back to the previous student and get him to paraphrase what the other student said. We are building success right into the co-creation of success criteria.
  5. Simplicity: Success criteria are stated in student-friendly language.
  6. Missed Criteria: You can prompt the class if the students miss some of the criteria and you can also be delighted if they contribute new ideas or ideas you may have missed. You may want to hold back with some of your criteria until you have a chance to think about what has been created.

After the co-construction of success criteria with your class:

  1. Criterion Tracker’s Contribution: Ask the student who was requested to attend to repetitions to contribute. Other students may also have suggestions. Mark up which criteria need to be consolidated.
  2. Revision Coming: Tell your students you will recopy the chart and keep the old one underneath it. Sometimes the order of the criteria matters.
  3. Explain Revisions: Tell your students if you add/delete criteria and why.
  4. Student Suggestions: Encourage future edits to the success criteria with sticky notes. Follow up with a discussion if sticky notes accumulate.
  5. Post: Post the success criteria as a visual reminder of the co-creation session
  6. Check Lists: Provide students with individual success criteria check lists (which may include a spot for descriptive feedback) so students themselves, peers, and teacher may be involved in the assessment.
  7. Descriptive Feedback: Give specific and timely feedback to students who have not met the success criteria. Think about your feedback…did you mention something positive and then give the student something specific that he or she can implement immediately?
  8. Tracking Feedback: Think about how you will give and/or track the feedback you give to students that do not meet the success criteria. See examples below:

Success Criteria Checklist Example 1

Success Criteria Met  Descriptive Feedback (if criteria not met)

Success Criteria Checklist Example 2

Success Criteria Met Not yet met I noticed…
Assessed by:






Success Criteria Checklist Example 3

Success Criteria If I didn’t meet the criteria, what’s next?
I can… I’m going to work on…
I can… I’m going to get better at…
I can… I will improve…
I can… I will…
I can… Next I’m going to…


Success Criteria Checklist Example 4

Success Criteria


What I have… What I need…








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Teacher Support Notes for Developing Success Criteria with your class

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