How to Create Marzano Learning Goals and Scales

I have been asked quite often how I create the Marzano Goals and Scales that I use in the classroom.  This is a complex task that requires the teacher to have a foundation on Dr. Marzano’s philosophy.  Dr. Marzano’s book “The Art and Science of Teaching: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction” is an excellent resource that I read in order to understand his framework.

Once I was familiarized with the Marzano Framework, I read “Creating and Using Learning Targets & Performance Scales: How Teachers Make Better Instructional Decisions” by Carla Moore, Libby H. Garst, and Robert J. Marzano.  This is another excellent resource that guided me through the process of creating my own Learning Goals and Scales.

I do not consider myself an expert on learning goals and scales.  I am a teacher who enjoys creating them for the classroom.  There may be different ways to create learning goals and scales, but I will describe the process I use, which is the one I prefer.  It is my subjective interpretation of what I have learned and works for me.  This is a summary of what I do:


  1. Select the state standard(s) to be taught.
  2. Unpack the selected standard(s) in order to understand exactly what I am asked to teach. I determine the procedural knowledge and the declarative knowledge.  This step helps me to create a learning goal that is aligned to the standard and keeps its intention/purpose.
  3. Use Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) Levels to identify the DOK level of the standard/goal (cognitive complexity).  These are the questions that I ask myself when I use this tool: Is the standard at Level 1 – Recall?  Is the standard at Level 2 – Skill/Concept?  Is the standard at Level 3 – Strategic Thinking?  Is the standard at Level 4 – Extended Thinking?
  4. After identifying the cognitive complexity level of the standard and creating the goal, I move to the learning targets.
  5. When creating the learning targets, I always use Webb’s DOK Levels.  I move up or down the DOK levels in order to identify the verb I will use for each learning target.  I also look at the DOK level number.  This is vital because this number indicates the cognitive complexity level of the standard.


Level 3:  I start with level 3 of the scale. The rationale for this is that this learning target is the one aligned with the goal/standard.  I use the same verb that I used for the learning goal, which is also the verb used for the standard.   Level 3 content and skills are standard specific. They mirror the standard.

Level 2:  After identifying level 3 of the scale, I move down Webb’s DOK Levels to create this learning target.  Then, I use a verb that is one level below the cognitive complexity level of the standard.  Level 2 of the scale contains the foundational knowledge and skills needed to build to level 3.

Level 1:  My level 1 targets always say, “With help, partial success at 2.0 content or 3.0 content.”  In other words, students at level 1 receive differentiated assistance/instruction from the teacher.

Level 4:  Before creating this learning target, I go back to level 3 to refresh my memory and make sure that I keep the intention of the standard.  Then, I look up at the Webb’s DOK level that is one level higher than my level 3 learning target and select a verb that I will use for level 4.   I always remember that level 4 of the scale has to include content and skills that have students moving up a cognitive level from the goal (level 3 on the scale).

Once I check my learning goal and scale several times to insure that it is correct, I add graphics/clipart that I purchase to illustrate the learning goal/scale that I want to use.     Using illustrated goals and scales helps my students visualize what is driving their instruction.  Even if they cannot read, they can look at the graphics and understand what they are learning.   It facilitates their learning.



Note: Dr. Marzano did not create the goals and scales included in the products displayed above.  They are my personal interpretation of Dr. Marzano’s Design Question 1, Element 1.  Therefore, they are subjective.  Correlations to Dr. Marzano’s research or Learning Science International have not been evaluated by Dr. Marzano or LSI.

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