The Success Criteria Playbook


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Table of Contents

Module 1: What are success criteria?
Module 2: What are the challenges to creating and implementing success criteria? How do we overcome those challenges?
Module 3: How do success criteria pave the way for equity?
Module 4: Creating and implementing effective "I Can"/"We Can" statements
Module 5: Creating and implementing single-point rubrics
Module 6: Creating and implementing rubrics
Module 7: Creating and implementing success criteria through teacher modeling
Module 8: Creating and implementing success criteria through exemplars
Module 9: Co-constructing criteria for success
Module 10: Different types of success criteria for different aspects of learning
Module 11: How do we use success criteria to foster meta-cognition
Module 12: How do success criteria support deliberate practice and transfer of learning?
Module 13: What is the relationship between success criteria and feedback?
Module 14: How do we use success criteria to fulfill the promise of equity?

About the Author

Dr. John Almarode is a bestselling author and an Associate Professor of Education at James Madison University. He was awarded the inaugural Sarah Miller Luck Endowed Professorship in 2015 and received an Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia in 2021. Before his academic career, John started as a mathematics and science teacher in Augusta County, Virginia. As an author, John has written multiple educational books focusing on science and mathematics, and he has co-created a new framework for developing, implementing, and sustaining professional learning communities called PLC+. Dr. Almarode′s work has been presented to the US Congress, the Virginia Senate, and the US Department of Education. One of his recent projects includes developing the Distance Learning Playbook for College and University Instruction in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Continuing his collaborative work with colleagues on what works best in teaching and learning, How Tutoring Works, Visible Learning in Early Childhood, and How Learning Works, all with Corwin Press, were released in 2021.

Douglas Fisher is professor and chair of educational leadership at San Diego State University and a leader at Health Sciences High and Middle College. Previously, Doug was an early intervention teacher and elementary school educator.  He is a credentialed teacher and leader in California.  In 2022, he was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame by the Literacy Research Association. He has published widely on literacy, quality instruction, and assessment, as well as books such as Welcome to Teaching, PLC+, Teaching Students to Drive their Learning, and Student Assessment: Better Evidence, Better Decisions, Better Learning.

Kateri Thunder, Ph.D., has the pleasure of collaborating with learners and educators from school divisions and early learning centers around the world to translate research into practice. She has served as an inclusive early childhood educator, an Upward Bound educator, a mathematics specialist, an assistant professor of mathematics education at James Madison University, and Site Director for the Central Virginia Writing Project. Her research, writing, and presentations focus on equity and access in early childhood and mathematics education, as well as the intersection of literacy and mathematics for teaching and learning. Kateri has collaborated with thousands of educators to catalyze change in their classrooms, centers, and schools. She is the chair of NCTM’s Research Committee and co-creator of The Math Diet. Additionally, she is a best-selling author for Corwin’s Teaching Mathematics in the Visible Learning Classroom Series, the Success Criteria Playbook, and Visible Learning in Early Childhood. Nancy Frey is professor of educational leadership at San Diego State University and a leader at Health Sciences High and Middle College. Previously, Nancy was a teacher, academic coach, and central office resource coordinator in Florida.  She is a credentialed special educator, reading specialist, and administrator in California.  She is a member of the International Literacy Association’s Literacy Research Panel. She has published widely on literacy, quality instruction, and assessment, as well as books such as The Artificial Intelligences Playbook, How Scaffolding Works, How Teams Work, and The Vocabulary Playbook.


With over 30 years of experience in education, you learn to recognize those practices that make a difference in your teaching. The Success Criteria Playbook is one of those books. Focusing on developing high-quality success criteria, John Almarode, Douglas Fisher, Kateri Thunder, and Nancy Frey take success criteria to the next level by laying out a step-by-step process that helps teachers ensure every student has clarity and can be successful in meeting the learning intentions. Each module walks you through the process of developing success criteria that help break down barriers and maximize student learning. This book is a must-have in providing your students a clear understanding of what success looks like!
*Curriculum Coordinator and K–12 Coordinator, San Bernardino County, Superintendent of Schools, San Bernardino, CA*

Educators, this book is your next MUST-READ whether you are just hearing about success criteria for the first time or are looking to hone your students’ abilities to articulate how they will know they have mastered your learning intentions. The Success Criteria Playbook is ideal for engaging in collaborative reflection through PLCs or personal reflection as you seek to make learning visible to your students. With a focus on equity in learning for all students, including those participating in distance learning, this book could not be more relevant to schools today.
*Teacher, Hanover County Public Schools, Mechanicsville, VA*

Not sure how to know if your students are learning? Wondering if your students even know what success looks like for your lessons? The Success Criteria Playbook: A Hands-On Guide to Making Learning Visible and Measurable has your answers and more! As a classroom teacher it can be hard to know if your students are learning. It’s even harder to know how to adjust for differing assignments, tasks, projects, and evolving expectations. Not all learning is the same, and this book offers clear, teacher-friendly examples that I could immediately take and apply to my own classroom, in whatever scenario I found myself. This book offers wonderful examples from real classrooms that made visualizing this in my own classroom effortless. I was able to easily transfer this text into reality in my classroom. My students know what we are learning, but more importantly they know when they’ve got it, and those lightbulb moments are what it’s all about!
*Third-Grade Teacher, Rockingham County Public Schools, Rockingham, VA*

From classroom, school, and district implementation, The Success Criteria Playbook provides guidance to navigating the hub for all aspects of quality teaching and learning. John Almarode, Douglas Fisher, Kateri Thunder, and Nancy Frey provide the foundation for developing scaffolded
tasks and assessments while incorporating opportunities for feedback. This publication is a hands-on, practical compilation of realistic experience gleaned from classrooms across the world. Standard deconstruction and lesson planning processes start with success criteria. Keys to every learner knowing what they are learning, knowing where they are in their learning, and knowing where they ultimately need to be are found here. The Success Criteria Playbook is a true game-changer!
*Vice Principal, Barren County Public Schools, Glasgow, KY*

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