Assessing for Understanding

Two weeks have passed us by and the November rain has begun in earnest.  Highlights from the past two weeks include:

  • UBC Information Night attended by over 100 families;
  • A highly successful Post-Secondary Evening organized by Ms. Thomas and our Counselling Team;
  • Informative Parent Teacher Conferences took place in our Cafeteria;
  • Well received Remembrance Day Assemblies hosted by Dilraj Chohan and Keerit Brar;
  • Social Committee starting to plan our Staff Christmas Party;
  • Senior Girls Volleyball Team competing in the City Playoffs, Senior Boys’ Volleyball Team in the City Playoffs and the Junior Girls Field Hockey Team placing second in the City;
  • The commencement of our Basketball season for boys and girls.

I have spent the past few days reviewing Course Outlines and will continue to do so this week.  In reading them over I am impressed at how each of you have addressed the two essential questions put forward by Ken O’Connor and discussed during our collaborative morning:

How confident am I that the grades students get in my classroom are consistent, accurate, and meaningful, and that they support learning?

How confident am I that the grades I assign students accurately reflect [the Ministry’s] published content standards and learning outcomes?

In a recent article, Tony Winger’s “Grading What Matters,” the author began analyzing his grading practices several years ago and was embarrassed by what he found. Although he claimed he wanted his students to think more critically and engage in the world more fully, his grading practices communicated that student compliance was more important than student learning. He came to understand that the learning he was assessing focused on memorization, not the higher-level thinking that all students need to master. He adjusted his grading practices to give knowledge, understanding, skills, and personal responsibility weights that better reflected their importance and ensured that all students were held responsible for developing high-level thinking skills.

Grading What Matters – Tony Winger

As we move forward this year, your course outlines can serve as an opportunity both for professional learning and dialogue about grading.  In working together, we can further refine our grading practices and move forward from an “assignments, quizzes, projects” evaluation construct to the development of course outlines that grade and give percentages around four domains: skills, knowledge, reasoning and the ability to create products. 

Have a nice week.