Conference Countdown
San Diego, Calif.
October 30 - November 1, 2015
  • membership
  • my account
  • help

    We are here to help!

    1703 North Beauregard Street
    Alexandria, VA 22311-1714
    Tel: 1-800-933-ASCD (2723)
    Fax: 703-575-5400

    8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday

    Local to the D.C. area, 703-578-9600, press 2

    Toll-free from U.S. and Canada, 1-800-933-ASCD (2723), press 2

    All other countries (International Access Code) + 1-703-578-9600, press 2

  • Log In
  • Forgot Password?


Conference on Educational Leadership

Conference on Educational Leadership

Connect with the top leaders, develop your leadership skills, and leave empowered with new ideas to put into practice in your school or district

Learn more and register.



ASCD respects intellectual property rights and adheres to the laws governing them. Learn more about our permissions policy and submit your request online.

Policies and Requests

Translations Rights

Books in Translation

Premium, Select, and Institutional Plus Member Book (Jan 2003)
Log in to read this chapter.


What Works in Schools

by Robert J. Marzano

Table of Contents

Chapter 4. Challenging Goals and Effective Feedback

The second school-level factor is “challenging goals and effective feedback.” The factor is primarily a combination of what other researchers have referred to as “high expectations” (or “effective monitoring” as referred to in Marzano, 2000a) and “pressure to achieve” (see Figure 2.3, p. 19). In my terminology, high expectations and pressure to achieve refer to establishing challenging goals for students. Monitoring refers to feedback—tracking the extent to which goals are met. Given that these elements hold the ranks of third and fourth respectively in my previous study (Marzano, 2000a), I've combined them and ranked them second in the list of the five school-level factors.

Pressure to Achieve: Establishing Academic Goals

In reviewing the research underlying this factor, let's first consider the academic impact of goal setting. Figure 4.1 (p. 36) provides a brief review of some of that research. Specifically, Figure 4.1 reports the research using the metric of effect sizes (ES) translated into percentile gains. (For a detailed explanation of effect sizes, see Technical Note 4, pp. 190–191.) For example, Mark Lipsey and David Wilson (1993) examined 204 different studies and found that, on average, the act of setting academic goals had an effect size of 0.55. This means that the achievement scores in classes where clear learning goals were exhibited were 0.55 standard deviations higher than the achievement scores for classes where clear learning goals were not established. This differential translates into a 21-percentage point difference in achievement. Considered together, the findings reported in Figure 4.1 are compelling. Specifically, the reported impact of setting goals on student achievement ranges from a low of 18 percentile points to a high of 41 percentile points.


You must be an ASCD Select or Premium member to view this content.

Log in.


Log in to submit a comment.

To post a comment, please log in above. (You must be an ASCD EDge community member.) Free registration