Checklist to Help Students Meet the Expectation of Standards

HI to all,

Some years ago, I used checklists to organize my instruction with Math standards and found the checklist to be a terrific organizational tool.  When I read the blog by Heather Wolpert-Gawron in Edutopia: Common Core in Action: The Power of a Checklist it really hit home with me.  The rationale expressed in this article definitely addresses college and career readiness in the Common Core.

We all use different strategies to maintain organization.  How do you guide your students to do the same?  What works well?  How do you help individuals to organize their work in class?

Meryl Becker-Prezocki,  SME


 I posted this resource last week, and many individuals looked at the posting, but so far no one has made a comment about checklists. I was just reviewing the COABE Conference program and noticed a presentation on the topic of checklists. The presenter is Mary Lou Friedline, and the session is called Transitioning Skills Checklist: A Tool for College & Career Readiness.  The description of this session is the following:      

 “Retaining and persisting in post-secondary education or training are dependent upon knowing the personal and academic expectations of

  education facilities.  This workshop provides this information, including a checklist for students and teachers to identify and track students'

  knowledge and awareness of these skills."       

This session is part of the Transitions Strand that is sponsored by NCTN.  If you able to attend this session at COABE, would you please post some comments about checklists?  Thanks so much!

Meryl Becker-Prezocki, SME


Teachers in Adult ESOL programs in Florida often create a checklist based on the curriculum competencies of the course they are teaching.  The competencies listed in the curriculum are usually worded in "teacher language," so teachers revise the wording according to the level of the students.  It proves to be very motivating for students. The classroom has a file box near the entrance with a file for each student that has a list of the competencies the teacher is covering during the semester.  Students enjoy seeing the boxes get checked off as they attend more and more classes.  We have a course called "Academic Skills for Adult ESOL" which is above the Advanced ESOL level (using the six levels of the National Reporting System - NRS).  The Academic Skills course does not require students to take a standardized assessment to show progress in the course.  Instead, the curriuculum and the accompanying competencies are used by the teacher as a checklist. When students have satisfactorily completed the items on the list of competencies, the teacher fills out a "Progress Report" that is used to document that the student completed the course. Teachers are encouraged to use formative and summative assessments in the classsroom, as well as standardized tests, but these are for information purposes, and are not used for reporting to the NRS, which is below the level of this course.

Phil Anderson, Adult ESOL Program Specialist, Florida Department of Education

Hi Phil and Meryl and all, I would like to know more about how teachers are using checklists, too. Phil, the class you describe for advanced language learners sounds like one a lot of learners could benefit from. Many programs have a significant number of language learners who top out on the standardized language assessments we use in ESL. What is included on the checklists you are using?

Best, Susan Finn Miller

Lancaster, PA (Moderator Assessment COP)

Hi Phil,

Thanks for sharing how the Florida ESOL instructors are using checklists.  I am not surprised by the fact that the students are motivated by their checks.  I know that when I have a list, I feel a sense of accomplishment when I check items off and the list becomes smaller.

Meryl Becker-Prezocki, SME

In my ABE-GED class we have checklists and colored folders for writing skills, study skills (language arts and social studies) and math. The math includes a place for pre and post scores.

I will need to revise these as I learn more about the new GED. We are just starting with Kaplan and Steck Vaughn. We also go back to Contemporary/McGraw Hill material.


I am curious how other teachers are integrating the new materials ans which ones.


Hi Meryl, Phil and Susan,

I, too, am a fan of the checklist.  With an emphasis on goal-setting, checklists allow the teacher to scaffold and highlight the process for the learner in order to achieve the goal. However, checklists don't have to be sequential, in fact, having a checklist where learners can move up or down the sections of a task or project, prioritizing steps, choosing to tackle something easier or more challenging depending on their time frame or state of mind, makes them multiple-intelligence and learning-style friendly, as well as more closely correlated to the way we tackle real world projects.

 A checklist can be used to help a learner identify which of key elements (or evidence to support a claim) s/he can find in a text, visual or listening passage. In this case, the focus is on citing the example or evidence and including page or line numbers for texts, rather than having a focus on chronology.

In my PD work, I use checklists as a tool all the time.  Right now, I'm drafting a CCRS-based checklist that will help me and my fellow teachers identify which elements of a text make it level- appropriately complex for beginning-level ESOL learners and help identify the ways in which the text can be exploited for higher-level thinking tasks (again appropriate for beginners).  My colleague, Lori Howard, and I use checklists to help teachers analyze texts to determine what adaptations are needed for various levels. While these  checklists do not include a chronological element, they still provide a transparent framework for the user that expedites the process of completing the analysis and/or adaptation task.

Hope that comment wasn't too far afield. ( I almost never get to comment and almost always have to lurk--but today is my birthday and I'm giving myself the present of participating :-) )


Hi Jayme and All,

Thanks for all the discussion about checklists, which I also think are great.  I don't have anything to add at the moment, but I was intrigued by the idea of checklists/rubrics for identifying level-appropriate texts since I am constantly trying to help teachers find texts that are appropriate, especially at the lowest levels.  Jayme, could you share more about that please?

Thanks so much.


Hi Moira,

There is a new tool out from Pearson that I have been using to help me determine the level of a text:‎ I also like the vocabulary tools Lida Baker identifies in her Tech Tips article for the TESOL Materials Writers newsletter:

My checklist in progress is more about the appropriate complexity of the text in order to engage beginning level learners' higher-level thinking skills (using the 3 R's of rigor, relevance and respect) and lay the groundwork for achieving the CCRS in R/W/L-S and Language.    I'm happy to share the draft that I've been working on--but bear in mind it is VERY MUCH a draft:

Lori Howard and I have also been working on a checklist for helping teachers analyze authentic texts in order to determine how to make them level appropriate. We had a great time working on that checklist. Checklists really make you break the task down and then build it back up. Something I like to think is akin to the Hollywood term "racking focus"  

I look forward to hearing the rest of our community's thoughts on checklists!


Hi Jayme,

Not sure if I can revive this almost two years later. I am doing a series of teacher training workshops and in doing my research, I came across this post and it is totally relevant as I am trying to get more information on how CCRS are having an impact on how adult ESL teachers are teaching, and what resources can help them. If you have any additional resources, or documents that are more solidified that you could share, it would be much appreciated!

Thank you.