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New Assessment and Reporting in Grades k-9

Reporting Student Achievement in Grades K-9
Posted on 11/19/2018
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Teachers in select elementary and middle schools are focused on supporting students to be independent and successful learners. As part of this work, teachers across the division are engaged in developing and using assessment practices that assess students based on outcomes. Outcomes describe what students are expected to know and do, according to the Alberta Educations Programs of Study.  

Students need to know and understand the outcomes they need to achieve, what they are going to do to achieve them, and what they will do once they have been achieved. This is the work that teachers do together with students in the classroom. As students demonstrate their learning and achievement, teacher assess progress and, at key points during the year, formally assess student achievement on those outcomes. There should be regular communication between teachers, students and parents about the learning and level of achievement throughout the year.  One the of the communications tools that parents are used to is the progress report or report card. In September 2019, all elementary and middle schools will have a similar report card. 

WHY ARE WE CHANGING?
Our common goal is to best prepare students for future education and career opportunities. Using an outcomes informed assessment and grading system will more accurately monitor, measure and communicate the learning and achievement of students.  This system allows teacher to provide clear and more meaningful feedback, for students based on their individual needs and next steps in learning.  High expectations and goals are not clearly represented in a percentage mark that is averaged by subject, but they can be connected to specific skills, knowledge and application, our students and their teachers will know what they need to do next. 

Percentage grades have been around a long time; however, we know that we can do better in clearly communicating the success and challenges a student demonstrates as it relates to an outcome rather that a percentage average.  Our work will be to continually communicate with both students and families regarding leaning and achievement based on the grade level expectations. 

Percentage grades have been around a long time; however, we know that we can do better in clearly communicating the success and challenges a student demonstrates as it relates to an outcome rather than a percentage average. Our work will be to continually communicate with both students and parents/guardians regarding learning and achievement based on the grade level curricular expectations.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR HIGH SCHOOL?
Because students have more information about specific areas of achievement connected to a subject, they should be well positioned to choose the best courses that fit their level of achievement. When students are being placed in a course with only an average percentage, it may not accurately reflect significant areas of strength and/or weakness that could impact success or failure in the high school course. Our high schools will continue to report in percentages for a final course grade as that is the requirement for entry into post-secondary (college and university); however, it should be noted that post secondary institutions rarely grade using percentages and generally utilize a 4 point scale or letters connected to a 4 point scale.

HOW WILL PROVINCIAL ACHIEVEMENT TESTS BE REPORTED?
Provincial Achievement Tests (grade 9) will still be reported as a single percentage and included for parent information.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO REPORT STUDENT LEARNING AND ACHIEVEMENT USING AN ACHIEVEMENT INDICATOR SCALE?



As parents/guardians, you might be used to:

  • One percentage or A,B,C,D,F on a subject (an average)
  • Seeing one percentage or A,B,C,D,F scale on a test, assignment, or project

This method of grading is often believed to reflect what a student knows. After all if you have 80% or higher you must be okay. What we’ve learned is students can receive a mark/grade on an assessment and if for example they see 85%, they think they’ve done well; however, what we know is there may be key outcomes within the assessment that they did not perform well on, but when averaged, this information is hidden and may be missed entirely. When we assess using descriptive criteria related to an assignment or as a grade in specific areas on a report card, you know to what degree the student has achieved in that specific area at that point in time.

WHAT STUDENTS WILL SEE:

WHAT ARE THE ACHIEVEMENT INDICATORS?
Achievement Indicators describe the level to which your child is achieving in each of the categories on the report card. If your child receives an M for MEETING, they have achieved the grade-level outcome to an ACCEPTABLE standard. If your child receives an E for EXCELLING, this demonstrates a DEEPER LEVEL of mastery within the grade-level outcome(s).



WHAT ABOUT BEHAVIOUR AND EFFORT?
Teachers do not include behaviour and effort as part of the mark connected to the outcomes. Teachers report on these components in the Learner Attributes section as well as in comments. A grade in a report card should reflect the level of achievement based on the Alberta Programs of Study. The Learner Attributes allow you to see how your child is developing the learning skills and abilities needed to succeed in their own learning as part of the classroom community. These Learner Attributes focus on participation, cooperation, quality work, and respect for self and others. Teachers use observations to identify how often these attributes are demonstrated using the following:

HOW WILL TEACHERS DETERMINE MY CHILD’S ACHIEVEMENT?
Over the course of the term, teachers gather examples of your child demonstrating their understanding of the learning outlined in the curriculum. These may include class assignments, tests, presentations, projects, and performances. Teachers may also make notes on observations of your child in class and talk with your child about their learning to gather as much information as possible before assigning a level of achievement in specific areas.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER PROGRAMMING INDICATORS?Teachers, based on the needs of a student, may need to add additional information about the type of programming that affects the way your child’s achievement is recorded. Your child’s teacher may still reflect a level of achievement next to the outcomes on the report card, but they may be based on adaptations or in the case of some students, the level of achievement and growth may be reflected in an Individual Support Plan (ISP). Parents should always be aware prior to the report card if ELL, ISP, Adapted, or modified indicators are used

HOW DO I SUPPORT MY CHILD?
Talking with your child about what they are learning and how well they are doing builds understanding that talking about learning is important. Consider what questions you might ask your child on a regular basis:

  • What are the skills you know are a strength for you and help you to meet the assignment requirements in class?
  • What are the skills you need to develop or improve to meet the assignment requirements in class?
  • What was the most difficult thing you did in school today? What was easiest for you? What did you enjoy?
  • How do you think you have improved over the last week/month/etc.?
  • What would you like to improve on? How do you plan to improve?

Questions to ask your child’s teacher to find out how they are doing in school:

  • How is my child doing in class?
  • What do you see as my child’s strengths?
  • Where can my child improve? In what areas specifically?
  • What can we do at home to support my child’s learning?
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