Student work Analysis Protocol

(This protocol can be in the Tools and Protocols section of the ALM Foundations Guidebooks)


Review the Standards/Competencies for the Lesson
  • Reflect on your purposes for the teaching/learning transaction.
    • What did you want students to know and be able to do?
    • Articulate this expectation in terms of standards or competencies for the lesson.
  • How did you plan to help them learn it?
    • Articulate the process for teaching and learning as it was intended to help students meet the standards or competencies.
  • Share information with colleagues – it is important to be able to articulate the intentional nature of your instructional plans in order for you to have an accurate picture of what you should be expecting from students.
Develop Expectations for Successful Performance
  • Articulate your own expectations for quality work.
    • What process did you expect to see that would let you know that students were successfully engaged in the work?
    • Focus on what you saw students do and those behaviors that you believe would lead to successful learning.
  • What are your expectations for the product that will let you know that students have met the standard or competency?
    • Think specifically about the content mastery you wanted them to demonstrate.
  • Share information with colleagues – it is important to clearly articulate your expectations, allowing accurate reflection on the quality of your instructional process and informing substantive feedback on student efforts.

Sorting student work

Quickly Complete a Sorting Process
  • Who “got it” and why?
    These are students who demonstrated, through process and product, that they met the standards and expectations for the work.
  • Who is “on the way” and why?
    These are students who had some difficulty with the process, or some gaps in their demonstration of understanding, that suggest they have more learning to do before they can be considered “masters” of the standard or competency.
  • Who “didn’t get it at all” and why?
    These students have critical gaps in understanding the content/process. This is generally a very small group of students.


Understanding Your Understanding

Talk with your colleagues in your group about…

  • How the students performed – discuss the evidence you have to support your conclusions.
  • What about your instructional plan had an impact on their performance?
Understanding Your Instructional Strengths and Needs
  • What were the strengths of your lesson as it supported students in reaching your goals for their work?
  • What did you find out about possible improvements in the process, content, or quality of your lesson that could have achieved better outcomes for students?
Understanding Your Students’ Strengths and Needs
  • What do your students generally need to understand next? How do you know?
  • What kinds of skills do your students need help developing so they can gain better access to your content?
  • What kinds of scaffolding (tools, processes, guidance, support, etc.) can you provide them in order to help them learn what they need to know and develop the skills they need to learn it?


The sorting protocol should eventually become a quick process that you can complete at any time with any products to help you:

  • Gauge how well a lesson worked
  • Assess what your students actually learned
  • Evaluate how well your planning efforts paid off, in terms of quality of instruction
  • Know what to do next

The sorting protocol can also be used to prepare for providing feedback to students or to grade for record keeping.


  • Take the “got it” pile and sort it into two sets – those who went beyond expectations and those who met expectations.
  • Take the “on the way” pile and sort it into two sets – those who are close to getting it and those who are barely on the way.
  • These four sorts make up your grade sets. You can take time to quickly write a score/grade on the work and then provide substantive feedback based on the competencies you expected to see and the specific quality of the individual student’s work.