Customer Support and Billing: 1 (855) 730-0400  | 

Performance Level Descriptors

What are Performance Level Descriptors (PLDs)?

Performance Level Descriptors outline the knowledge, skills, and practices that students performing at any given level achieve in each content area at each grade level. They indicate if the students are academically prepared to engage successfully in further studies in each content area, the next grade’s material and, eventually at the high school level to verify that they are college and career ready.

PLD Fact Sheet PDF Thumbnail

Download the ACT Aspire PLD Fact Sheet

Why did we develop PLDs?

PLDs were developed to give educators and parents further framework to what students in a score range are able to do and know, and to show progression of skills development within and across grades.

Who are PLDs for?

PLDs are designed to be used by educators, students and parents. Because PLDs more clearly communicate the specific knowledge and skills that students demonstrate at different levels of proficiency within reporting categories, they can serve a number of purposes in guiding classroom instruction. They are the foundation of rich discussion around what students need to do to perform at higher levels and to explain the progression of learning within a subject area.

How will PLDs be used?

PLDs are essential in setting standards. Standard setting panelists use PLDs to determine the threshold expectations for students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to attain performance levels of “In Need of Support”, “Close”, “Ready”, and “Exceeding ”. PLDs are also used to inform item development, as each test needs questions that distinguish performance all along the continuum.

We encourage the use of the PLDs for a variety of purposes, such as:

  • Differentiating instruction to maximize individual student outcomes
  • Completing assessments to help identify target performance levels for individuals or groups of students
  • Tracking student growth along the proficiency continuum as described by the PLDs.