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Performance Criteria

Performance criteria is the expected level of knowledge and performance established for a population of students. 

For assessment at ASU, it is recommended that programs use rubrics to score student artifacts with faculty developed rubrics being the most ideal. The rubric should have levels or categories for student performance that allow you to predetermine where you expect students to land. Rubrics with accurate, detailed descriptors allow faculty to establish performance criteria. 

Performance criteria can be based on longitudinal data, such as past performance or nationally established criteria where available. When not available, performance criteria can be determined by the faculty based on their expertise in the field to determine performance and then reinforced through longitudinal data collection.

Programs learn the most about their curriculum when they set criteria both above and below average performance. This would then provide information on both the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum. Below are two examples that can be considered a reasonable criterion given the context for each:

  • An engineering program expects 80% of students to score a four or higher (scale of 1-5) on rubrics focused on electrical engineering skills and knowledge. In this situation, past student performance can help determine what is reasonable to expect and measure changes over time.

  • An aviation program requiring 100% of students meeting a minimum score of four or higher (scale 105) on rubrics focused on piloting skills and knowledge. In this situation, will student performance lead to passing national exams and performing as a safe, competent pilot?

There are several important guidelines to consider when identifying appropriate performance criteria for your outcomes:

  1. The performance criterion must be directly related to the measure. If the measure is a rubric, the performance criterion will be a threshold of performance on the rubric. If the measure is a survey item, the performance criterion will be a threshold of respondents’ ratings on that particular item.

  2. Write performance criteria in this format: “XX% of students will earn a rating of YY or higher on the [name of student artifact].”  Or “XX% of students will perform at or above expectations on the [licensure exam, dissertation] based upon the faculty developed rubric.” or “XX% of respondents will report that [use scale points from survey item]. 

  3. Course grades, exam grades, and course completion are not appropriate for use with performance criteria. As with measures, it is important to focus on the specific presentation, project, etc., that will be used to measure student learning on the outcome of interest.

  4. Performance criteria related to the thesis or dissertation must reflect a standard other than passing on the first attempt. These measures represent the culmination of a student’s program of study and should be analyzed at specific levels for their achievement across a spectrum or within a singular area. 


For further guidance on writing concepts and competencies, please visit the Performance Criteria section of the handbook or go to the Concept, Competencies, Measure, and Performance Criteria section of the Canvas site.