Standards-Based Learning and assessment

Understanding each student may learn differently, we feel placing your child front and center of their own education will work to move students, focused on growth, along a personalized learning path.  Holding students to a one size fits all approach for educational learning provides a disservice.  In order to tackle this new learning, our staff has worked hard to prioritize Iowa Core standards that are most essential for student success.  Most importantly, we want students to assess learning based on those standards to provide the best chance for learning and success in future grades, courses, or even post-secondary schooling.

Project-Based Learning

WMMS currently has two Project-Based Learning (PBL) cohorts in 7th grade. A project motivates students to gain knowledge and helps them retain what they have learned. Projects are an opportunity to apply skills to personally relevant and real-world situations. The 21st-Century skills learned will help students succeed in future professional workplace environments. 

Project Based Learning Values and Beliefs*

  • PBL transforms students by inspiring them to think differently about themselves as learners, collaborators, and leaders.
PBL prepares students for academic, personal, and career success; what’s more, it readies young people to rise to the challenges of their lives and the world they will inherit. 

  • PBL leads students to master core academic content and builds critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, communication, and self-management skills. 

  • PBL advances educational equity and empowers youth furthest from opportunity. 

  • PBL enables teachers to make a difference in their students’ lives—academically, socially, and emotionally—and to experience the joy of teaching.

* Buck Institute for Education

Along with working on a project, students receive instruction in all core content areas each day.  PBL participants are working on the same common core standards as their peers. The PBL team includes Tammy Keigan (language arts), Zac Eash (social studies), Sadie Jones (math), and Jeanna Clough (science). Mari Haley will support the team as an instructional coach.

Workshop Model

Teachers in kindergarten through fifth grade are using the workshop model to teach literacy instruction. This model is a structured time for teaching reading and writing that uses a gradual release of responsibility format. It begins with a teacher-led mini lesson that includes a connection to previous learning, an focused teaching point, modeling, guided practice and a link to continued use. Students have time for independent practice, as well as meeting in small groups and conferring with a teacher.

A graphic that shows the components of a balanced literacy approach and how they connect to each other.

Balanced Literacy


Priority Standards Proficiency Scales

Proficiency scales articulate learning progressions for each prioritized standard. Learning progressions describe how students’ understanding of a topic develops over time (Daro, Mosher, & Corcoran, 2011; Heritage, 2008). West Marshall teachers are in the process of creating proficiency scales for each priority standard and/or learning topic.


Students who have a primary home language different from English are given the ELPA21 assessment and receive academic support as needed.

Title One

Elementary and intermediate students are identified for Title One literacy support based on district-wide assessments. These students receive small group support for approximately 30 minutes a day with a focus on foundational skills and fluency.


Students in kindergarten through 12th grade are identified for TAG with the CogAT assessment. Students meet on a weekly basis for enrichment/extension activities with one of the district’s TAG teachers.