The primary purpose of assessment and evaluation is to improve student learning
Growing Success is Ontario’s assessment, evaluation and reporting policy document which became effective September 2010. It impacts all assessment, evaluation and reporting practices and procedures in grades 1-12. Growing Success consolidates, updates and replaces previous government policy on assessment, evaluation and reporting (Policy to Practice 2000). This First Edition of the document is expected to be updated with a final version which will address Kindergarten. The policy builds on previous ministry policy and updates it with international/local research findings since 1998.
- Are fair, transparent, and equitable for all students;
- Support all students, including those with special education needs, those who are learning the language of instruction (English or French), and those who are First Nation, Métis, or Inuit;
- Are carefully planned to relate to the curriculum expectations and learning goals and, as much as possible, to the interests, learning styles and preferences, needs, and experiences of all students;
- Are communicated clearly to students and parents at the beginning of the school year or course and at other appropriate points throughout the school year or course;
- Are ongoing, varied in nature, and administered over a period of time to provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate the full range of their learning;
- Provide ongoing descriptive feedback that is clear, specific, meaningful, and timely to support improved learning and achievement;
- Develop students’ self-assessment skills to enable them to assess their own learning, set specific goals, and plan next steps for their learning.
4 Achievement Categories
- Pen and paper test
- Oral presentations
- Student teacher conversation
- Thought process behind the product
- Experiential learning
What do these Crazy Levels Mean?
Students are measured in two ways. First, they are measured against the content standards in the Ontario curriculum and second, against the performance standards in the provincial achievement chart. The achievement chart sets out four broad
categories of learning including Knowledge and Understanding, Thinking, Application and Communication and four levels of achievement (Levels 1 to 4). Level 3 is the provincial standard. Level 4 exceeds the provincial standard (but is still within grade level work). Level 2 approaches the provincial standard. Level 1 falls below the provincial standard.
Overall, teachers use a balanced approach to assessment and evaluation by considering and integrating all four achievement categories when they assess and evaluate student work (over the stretch of a grade/year or semester).
Growing Success includes a chart which equates levels of achievement with letter grades/percentages.
What does Growing Success Say about Homework
Growing Success indicates that the purpose of homework is to consolidate students’ knowledge and skills and/or to prepare for the next class. Peel’s Homework Policy (Policy # 70) will use a process of stakeholder consultation to revise, clarify and update the policy so parents can better understand homework expectations in elementary and secondary school.
Demystifying the Final Grades
Teachers (and students) gather evidence of their learning over time from observations, conversations and student products. Teachers then look at the most consistent level of achievement or performance as measured against the curriculum expectations and the achievement chart. Teachers can also include more recent evidence/gains made in learning into account. Teachers do not simply calculate averages in an electronic grading program or spreadsheet. They use both mathematical calculations (blended mode) and professional judgment to determine student’s grades.
In reporting, students’ achievement in learning skills and work habits are separated from student achievement in curricular subjects (unless specifically allowed by the curriculum). Teachers then distill all the evidence of learning into a letter grade
(grades 1-6) or percentage grade (grades 7-12) for provincial report cards. Grades must be accurate. Report card comments that accompany students’ grades identify specific student strengths and criteria yet to be met, include classroom examples/evidence and offer specific next steps for improvement. Teachers can also communicate with parents in many other effective ways (websites, agendas, phone calls, notes home etc.). Report card comments should provide clear, precise, personalized, meaningful and understandable information for parents.
What Does Student Assessment/Evaluation Focus on Today? (for Tomorrow…)
Closing the gap in student achievement for all students in the classroom (moral, economic imperatives)
Students are not measured against each other but rather are measured against provincial standards (Content/Performance)
Use of learning goals, success criteria and descriptive feedback to make learning transparent, visible to all learners
Role of peers as classroom resources, peer and self-assessment and personal goal setting
Increased importance of developing learning skills and work habits and other 21st century skills as predictors of success
Student evidence of learning can come from multiple sources over time (observation, conversation, student product)
Student involvement in the assessment process (student choice, voice and differentiation)
Both surface knowledge and deep understanding of the curriculum/big ideas
Elimination of non-learning factors in determining students’ grades to attain accuracy in grading
Most consistent achievement over time, making allowances for more recent evidence
Use of both mathematical calculations and professional judgement in determining students’ grades
Increasing ownership over learning
Continuation of thoughtful and strategic use of instructional technology to enhance the learning/assessment process