Assessment at SHS
The fundamental purpose of assessment is to improve learning. Teachers use information obtained from assessment and evaluation to help them determine the best instructional approaches and ensure that students are actively engaged in learning. This information also helps boys and their teachers to identify where they need to focus in order for each boy to achieve his learning goals.
Assessment is a measurement of learning conducted by the teacher at various points in the learning process. It requires that a teacher observe students in a variety of ways, namely how they think, how they communicate, how they have retained what has been taught and how can they apply their knowledge. For example, boys may demonstrate learning in discussion, written work, computation of math problems, a labor report or presentation, or in the form of a quiz, test or assignment. Assessment may be conducted at any point in the learning process and teachers often begin to gather data regarding a student's foundational knowledge before instruction begins.
This is the process of determining a students’ overall achievement in all areas of learning, and generating clear feedback to both student and parent on where the learning stands at the completion of a unit or term. The most recent, most consistent evidence of learning is evaluated.
Teachers at Sterling Hall measure achievement of Learning Goals using Level Indicators. This approach to measurement is considered more effective than traditional cumulative grades for several reasons:
Students start with limited skills and knowledge in an area and progress to mastery. While the learning is underway, measurement needs to service the learning, as opposed to weighing equally towards a final result for the year.
Most subjects are not designed to be measured in their entirety by a single mark. The learning itself becomes more accessible when it is goal-centred. Therefore, in place of “material” to understand and deliver back, learning itself is often about four or more clear goals such as:
- knowledge – retaining and recalling information
- inquiry - asking questions, generating ideas
- communication - reading, writing, speaking and listening
application – applying learning to new situations
- Students need clear indication of difference in “levels of achievement” across these four areas. In place of a set of percentage grades on chronologically organized tasks, students see how they understand, think about, speak or write about and apply the material being taught. Graduating from one level to the next in any of these areas becomes how growth is measured, with the objective being “mastery” across all of these learning goals.
Below is a description of the achievement levels in use at Sterling Hall. They are consistent with both the Ministry of Education’s guiding principles on assessment practice in Ontario and the common practices of the province’s consortium of independent schools. The Sterling Hall curricular expectations that these indicators measure against are made available by teachers in each respective grade at the outset of each academic year. Transparency of these goals for all stakeholders (boys, parents and teachers) is integral to both the success of the learning itself and a clear understanding of what these level indicators are showing at each reporting interval.
Consistently exceeds curricular expectations
Often exceeds curricular expectations
Meets curricular expectations
Approaches curricular expectations
Does not yet meet curricular expectations
Most Recent / Most Consistent:
Overall, assessment and evaluation are designed to promote learning. Teachers are striving to see their students succeed throughout the school year. Measurements of success are not gathered on a cumulative basis, but rather with an eye to most recent/most consistent performance. Teachers are empowered to use their professional judgement in the best interests of students, ensuring that the most reflective pattern of achievement is reported.
With the use of Level Indicators and Learning Goals, the distinct areas to aim for when improving achievement are clear. Equally important, effort has been divided into four or six clear Learning Skills that assist the learning process. These are distinct from achievement as they deserve attention unto themselves. Their relationship to achievement may again develop over time (i.e. with a student's added attention to "responsibility" or "organization" will come improved achievement in one or several learning goals.) Students are measured according to a frequency model, or how often they exhibit the following:
These characteristics indicate your son’s development as a learner. They are integral components of the learning process and are distinct from learning goals.
For Grades 6 - 8, two additional learning skills have been developed:
A frequency model has been developed to track your son’s progress at three stages of the academic year with respect to his demonstration of learning skills in each subject. For instance, a snapshot of a boy’s learning skills would be indicated as follows: