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Assessment for Learning
Section 1:  Moving Toward A Culture of Assessment for Learning

Policy to Practice

""As educators, our job is to teach ourselves out of a job. By this I mean that we must take our students to a place where they don’t need us anymore. Any students who leave school still needing to rely on their teachers to tell them that they have done well have not yet learned to hit the target, because they cannot see the quality of their own performance.""
Stiggins, 2001.

Educators are encouraged to share the resources within this support document provided there is no cost to the recipient and acknowledgement is given to the source.
Bluewater District School Board, 2003.

In the classroom, assessment refers to the collection of accurate data or information concerning students’ skills, knowledge and attitudes. Evaluation refers to the application of professional judgement to that data. Together assessment and evaluation represent a critical component in the teaching and learning process.

This, of course, is not new. Teachers have long used effective assessment and evaluation strategies in Bluewater classrooms. What is new, I believe, is the currency of educational research and degree of sophistication of assessment and evaluation techniques and their applicability in terms of student learning.

A parallel to these developments in education can be seen in the medical field. A physician today will access a wide variety of tests and assessments as he or she collects data about a particular patient.  Innovative and sophisticated technologies will be used and comparisons will be made to established health standards. At the same time, observation and low-tech information will be garnered.  Only after all of the possible data have been considered will an evaluation or diagnosis be rendered.

In our classrooms, teachers are like those medical professionals. We use all of the assessment tools at hand, and invent new ones where necessary, to gather all of the data necessary to a solid evaluation or diagnosis. Following that evaluation, teaching practice will be informed and specific strategies selected for the student as the teaching and learning cycle continues.

The contents of this document are extremely valuable for use in classrooms and across our Bluewater system. I commend them to your reading and use.

The creation of a valuable tool such as this Assessment and Evaluation Support Document requires a significant commitment and effort from a talented group of people. Many thanks to all of those involved.

David Armstrong
Director of Education

Assessment and Evaluation Policy Committee
Alana Murray – Superintendent of Secondary Education
Mary Anne Alton – Superintendent of Elementary Education
Marnie Coke – Superintendent of Instruction, Grades 7-9
•     Charlie Bell – Curriculum Lead Teacher, Secondary
•     Mark Kolohon – Curriculum Lead Teacher, Intermediate
•     Audrey Smith – Curriculum Led Teacher, Primary/Junior
•     Doug Goar – Principal of Program
•     Keith Lefebvre – Alexandra Community School
•     Andrea Tang – Georgian Bay Secondary School
•     Adrienne Rylko – Meaford Community School
•     Karen Moss – Area Resource Teacher, West
•     Jane Calcutt – Kincardine Township – Tiverton Public School
•     Leanne Stredwick – Dufferin Elementary School
Rick Galbraith – Meaford Community School
Ross Davidson – Bruce Peninsula District School
Liz MacPherson – Kincardine Township - Tiverton Public School
Cathy Thomson – Kincardine District Secondary School
Joanne Thompson – Hillcrest Elementary School
Maureen Low – Dufferin Elementary School
A special thank you to those on the working committee.

The committee as a whole would like to extend a special thank you to Gail Pletsch, John Diefenbaker Secondary School, for her time and expertise in producing this attractive and user-friendly support document.

The Bluewater District School Board would like to acknowledge and thank all educators across the province who contributed to the creation and production of the “Policy to Practice” teacher resource document. The document was distributed to school boards by the Council of Directors of Education (CODE) last year to support the implementation of provincial assessment policy. The “Policy to Practice” provincial resource document forms the basis of the Bluewater DSB Assessment for Learning resource document. Bluewater would also like to thank the members of the Kempenfelt Consortium of District School Boards for sharing their valuable assessment resources and ideas which have helped to contribute to the successful implementation of the Bluewater DSB Assessment for Learning– Policy to Practice resource document.

Bluewater District School Board is committed to moving towards a culture of “Assessment for Learning”. Assessment must be embedded within the teaching and learning process. The focus must be continuous learning and improvement of student performance. This can be achieved by continually evaluating our assessment practices.  

Teachers and principals will be supported in this movement through the understanding and application of the Guiding Principles outlined in Assessment and Evaluation Policy #6951D.  One such support can be found in this document, Assessment for Learning. It will serve to guide educators as they work towards
gaining expertise in assessing student achievement in the four categories of learning:
     knowledge and understanding of assessment;
     thinking and inquiry of assessment practices;
     communication with students and parents;
     applications and making connections to teaching and assessment practices.

This support document contains resources for implementing the Bluewater District School Board Assessment and Evaluation Policy for Kindergarten to Grade 12. The loose-leaf format will allow pages to be added as Assessment for Learning resources are rolled out throughout 2003-2004. The document has been divided into sections to support the various components of the Assessment for Learning:
Policy to Practice document.

S E C T I O N 1
Introduction:  Moving Toward a Culture of Assessment for Learning
S E C T I O N 2
Classroom Practice:  Unpacking the Curriculum (Designing Down)
Accommodation and Modification
Frequently Asked Questions
S E C T I O N 3
Four Categories of Learning
Levels of Achievement
Frequently Asked Questions
Understanding Assessment and Evaluation
The Roles of the Teacher and the Student
Planning Your Course Assessment and Evaluation
Teacher as Observer: Look, Listen, Interact
Understanding Assessment Methods, Strategies and Tools
Exemplar Resources
S E C T I O N 4
Determining the Grade
Frequently Asked Questions
S E C T I O N 5
Classroom Practice
i.      Learning Skills in the Elementary Grades
ii.     Learning Skills in the Secondary Grades
Attendance, Punctuality and Submissions of Assignments
Determining the Grade as a Result of Missed or Incomplete Summative Evaluations
Frequently Asked Questions
References to Other Material
S E C T I O N 6
Introduction: Policy Components (with Strategies)
Framework (Chart)
Criteria for the Provincial Report Card – Bluewater Checklist

Bluewater District School Board
Assessment and Evaluation Policy
Bluewater District School Board has developed a policy for Assessment and Evaluation.  This policy outlines best assessment practices . This document is intended to help teachers and administrators to be literate in assessment and evaluation and to demonstrate the guiding principles in their daily practice.

a)      Assessment and Evaluation Policy
It is the policy of the BWDSB to use assessment and evaluation to improve student learning by:

Providing a common set of guidelines about assessment and evaluation which will promote high quality assessment and evaluation practices in all classrooms and programs throughout the Board;
Supporting educators in using assessment and evaluation data effectively for decision making at the classroom, program, school and board level;
Informing parents and guardians about the assessment and evaluation process;
Providing professional development to enable teachers and administrators to becomee terate in assessment and evaluation as outlined in the Guiding Principles and Indicators of Assessment and Evaluation Literacy which follow.

b)      The 7 Guiding Principles
The guiding principles set out in the Bluewater District School Board Assessment and Evaluation Policy are:

1.      The primary purpose of assessment and evaluation is to improve student learning.12032008_11540_0.pngAssessments should engage, motivate and inspire learners to aspire to academic excellence. Ongoing classroom assessment must be an integral part of day-to-day instruction and provide evidence of achievement relative to the expectations outlined in the Ontario Curriculum or the student’s Individual Education Plan. To support success, teachers must monitor student progress and use assessment information to make decisions regarding how they will modify their instructional strategies and resources. As key users of assessment information, successful students should engage in self-assessment and use the information to track their achievement, identify their strengths and needs, and plan the next steps in their learning.

2.      Assessment and evaluation data is used to adapt program and teaching practice to improve student performance.
Assessment information will guide teachers when developing lessons and designing units of study. Formative assessment will help both the teacher and student understand the strengths and weaknesses of the student across all achievement chart categories and his/her readiness for summative assessment of their overall learning.

3.      Assessment and evaluation practices are fair and equitable for all students.
Students must know and understand the criteria and the methods that will be used to assess and evaluate their achievement. There should be no surprises for the students. Teachers must use assessment strategies designed to provide students with opportunities to demonstrate the full extent of their learning. If we do not allow students to demonstrate their learning in ways that best suit their learning styles and preferences, we may not see what the students really know and can do. When assessment practices are flexible and varied, all students (including those students with special needs) will have an opportunity to demonstrate their learning.

4.      Feedback to students about assessment and evaluation is ongoing, clear and meaningful.
Timely information about the purpose, nature and use of assessment results must be communicated to students and parents. When teachers use a variety of ways to communicate this information and request feedback from parents, they increase the likelihood that the message has been understood. Individual student assessment information is truly meaningful when it results in students and parents having a clearer understanding of what the student knows and is able to do, and what he/she needs to learn to do next. By fostering student ownership for this communication process, teachers can reinforce the students’ use of self-assessment, goal setting and communication skills needed for lifelong learning.

5.      Professional development and collaboration support assessment and evaluation.
Teachers and principals who are life-long learners and reflective practitioners, understand the critical role of assessment and engage in ongoing professional development to enhance their assessment expertise. Through activities such as discussing performance standards, leveling student work and selecting exemplars, educators develop a shared understanding of the expectations and increase consistency and accuracy in assessing and interpreting student performance.

6.      Partners in education are aware of and involved in the assessment and evaluation process.
Increased understanding and commitment to excellence in assessment occurs when parents and other partners are provided with opportunities to discuss assessment instruments and practices.  The accuracy and impact of assessment is increased when teachers, students and colleagues develop a clear vision of what quality work looks like. When all partners work together to take steps to support all students, we increase the likelihood that all students will achieve the curriculum expectations.

7.      Assessment and evaluation practices are regularly reviewed and refined.
The accuracy, efficiency and effectiveness of assessment practices should be reviewed and refined when necessary and appropriate in order to improve student achievement. Professional development related to assessment should be regularly reviewed to determine its impact on the quality of classroom assessment.

Adapted from York Region District School Board



c)      Indicators of Assessment and Evaluation Literacy
Indicators of assessment and evaluation supporting the guiding principles will be evident when teachers and administrators practice the following:

Focus on a sequence of planning that begins with expectations in The Ontario Curriculum;
Align assessment and evaluation with the grade level expectation specified in The Ontario Curriculum or the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP);
collect sufficient, valid and reliable information to make informed decisions about program and instruction;
Include goals related to the assessment and evaluation of students in school action plans;
Use provincial and Bluewater District School Board assessment data to assist students in developing skills that will enable them to demonstrate their knowledge;
Develop a formative and summative assessment and evaluation plan as part of each course outline or unit plan;
Ensure that all evaluation is based on the Levels of Achievement as specified in the Ontario Curriculum;
Use a wide range of assessment and evaluation methods that are appropriate to the four Categories of Learning and to the Levels of Achievement;
Create rich performance tasks using Ministry exemplar resource documents as a model and identify local samples of exemplars;
Minimize/control all cultural, racial, ethnic, gender and socioeconomic bias that can lead to inaccurate assessment and evaluation;
Determine the learning needs of students through diagnostic assessment in order to plan program;
Involve students as partners in goal-setting, assessment, self and peer assessment, record keeping and communication;
Ensure that students are aware of expectations and criteria prior to the assessment;
Assess learning needs within the context of the students’ daily classroom investigations in order to build on (scaffold) student learning;
Provide students with feedback and strategies to improve their performance;
Ensure that all four Categories of Learning as specified in the Ontario Curriculum are reflected in the report card grade;
Communicate assessment and evaluation information effectively (i.e. report cards, portfolios, conferences, other written and oral communication); and,
Share their expertise and routinely engage in teamwork focused on improving student learning.

d)      Moving Toward a Culture of Assessment for Learning

The overall goal of Elementary and Secondary Education is to have all students graduate from Secondary School with a high school diploma or certificate. The overall goal of every teacher is to foster a standard of excellence that can be attained when a love of learning is shared by educators and students. To assist in achieving this goal, teachers must learn to use assessment to improve student learning, in part by informing teacher practice.

Suggestions on how to use assessment to improve student learning:

Examine school results from provincial assessments and incorporate into the school plan exact methods to address weaknesses shown by the students in these assessments.
Examine school results from District assessments to incorporate change into class/grade level programming.
Use class assessments to develop anchors/exemplars of level three answers.
Allow students to redo, retake, retry, whenever possible.
Use class assessments to examine how well the material was taught.
Use class assessments to delineate missing skills that prevent demonstrating knowledge of the essential outcomes.
Use assessment to improve, not just audit, student performance.
Use assessment to improve, not just audit, student performance on learning skills.
Give clear, high quality feedback.
Use formal and informal reading assessment.

© 2013 - Bluewater District School Board