Communicating Student Learning
Communicating Student Learning
Fairview Heights Elementary School believes that student success in learning depends upon the collaborative efforts of all those involved in the education of the child. This includes a supportive and well-informed team of students, parents, staff and community. Collaboration requires that teachers, students, and parents/guardians share an understanding of what children are expected to achieve through their educational experiences, as well as a clear idea of where each child is in his/her learning. This school plan will explain what Fairview Heights teachers and administrators do to assess and evaluate your child's learning. It will also outline how communication about student learning will be achieved by providing many opportunities for exchanges of information between school and home.
How Students Learn
FHES has been developing educational programs on the basis of understandings about how students learn, referred to as the Principles of Learning as described in the NS Department of Education Public Schools Program.
The Principles of Learning state that:
Students construct knowledge and make it meaningful in terms of their prior knowledge and experiences
Learning is a process of actively constructing knowledge.
Learning is enhanced when it takes place in a social and collaborative environment.
Students need to continue to view learning as an integrated whole.
Learners must see themselves as capable and successful.
Learners have different ways of knowing and representing knowledge.
Reflection is an integral part of learning.
Several of these principles give direction on how teachers assess, evaluate, and communicate student learning. For example, because learning is a process of actively constructing knowledge and because students need to view learning as an integrated whole, teachers plan assessment tasks that require students to apply their knowledge in solving interesting, authentic, and complex problems.
Essential Graduation Learnings
Public school education in Nova Scotia has two major goals: to help all students develop to their full potential cognitively, affectively, physically and socially; and to help all students acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary for them to continue as thinking, learning, physically active, valued members of society. The Department of Education believes that these goals can best be reached if school communities help students to develop in certain areas of learning called essential graduation learnings. These areas cross traditional subject boundaries and are not the monopoly of any one discipline. The Department of Education has identified six areas of learning:
• aesthetic expression
• personal development
• problem solving
• technological competence
Graduates will be able to respond with critical awareness to various forms of the arts and be able to express themselves through the arts.
Graduates will be able to assess social, cultural, economic, and environmental interdependence in a local and global context.
Graduates will be able to use the listening, viewing, speaking, reading and writing modes of language(s) and mathematical and scientific concepts and symbols to think, learn, and communicate effectively.
Graduates will be able to continue to learn and to pursue an active, healthy lifestyle.
Graduates will be able to use the strategies and processes needed to solve a wide variety of problems, including those requiring language and mathematical and scientific concepts.
Graduates will be able to use a variety of technologies, demonstrate an understanding of technological applications, and apply appropriate technologies for solving problems.
What Students Learn
These principles along with the outcomes framework developed by the provincial Department of Education in collaboration with the other Atlantic Provinces form the basis for the school program in Nova Scotia for all students from primary to grade twelve. The outcomes framework tells us what children will learn.
Teachers are provided with curriculum guides that describe what children are expected to know and be able to do at various points along a continuum of learning in each curriculum area. In reading, for example, there are clear descriptions of each stage a reader goes through (emergent, early, transitional, and fluent). For each stage there are outcomes which indicate the knowledge and skills that indicate that level of ability. There are outcomes for almost all curriculum areas; mathematics, science, health, language arts, physical education, music, art, and technology. This set of expectations about what children will learn as a result of their educational experiences is referred to as the Learning Outcomes Framework. Teachers use the expected learning outcomes as the basis for planning and teaching. Parents/guardians can learn more about this Framework by discussing it with your child's teacher, coming to parent information nights, workshops, observing your child's work, monitoring homework, and visiting the Nova Scotia Department of Education website.
How Teachers Assess and Evaluate Student Learning
FHES teachers use the expected learning outcomes as a basis for assessing and evaluating student learning. Assessment is the systematic process of gathering information about what children know and can do. As stated in the Principles of Learning "learners have different ways of knowing and representing knowledge" Teachers plan lessons and assessment tasks that allow each student to learn and show understanding. In order to provide all children with ample and fair opportunity to demonstrate their achievement of the expected learning outcomes, teachers use a variety of different assessment methods.
Students have different strengths and unique ways of learning and demonstrating what they know. By ensuring a variety of methods, teachers give students the opportunity of showing their best work. In addition, gathering information on student learning from several different types of tasks ensures that the teacher has a fuller, more accurate picture of what a child knows or can do. This Balanced Assessment allows the teacher to plan lessons more effectively for individuals and groups of students. It also allows the teacher to use this information to evaluate the student. Here are some of the methods teachers use to assess student learning:
Work Samples - collected and dated daily assignments
Journals - informal writing shared among students and teachers
Reports/Projects/Presentations - formal assignments extending over a period of time, demonstrating student understanding of a concept or topic.
Test/Quizzes - a time limited written or oral response to questions on a specific concept
Performances - skits, public speaking, plays, role playing, singing and dancing
Peer and Self Assessment - Students assess and reflect on their progress
Observations/Checklists/Anecdotal Records - specific methods that support continuous gathering of information on student learning.
Portfolios - a collection of student/teacher selected work that portrays a student's effort, progress, and achievement over a period of time.
Student Led Conferences - student presentations of their learning to parents/guardians
Goal Setting - collaborative process among student, teachers and parents/guardians to establish goals the child will work towards over a period of time.
Rubrics - identify and describe the criteria used to assess student performance
Questioning - the use of question and answer in various settings to determine what a child knows
Conferences - discussion between student and teacher regarding student's accomplishments
Performance Tasks - a task assigned to determine if a student has achieved a particular outcome
Response Logs - a written response or reflection to a text a student has read, heard or written.
Teachers will use some combination of the above to ensure a balanced assessment of each student.
Evaluation is the process of analysing, summarizing, and making decisions based on the information collected. The decisions teachers make in evaluating student learning reflect where each child is in relation to learning and also where the child needs to go next in their learning.
Parents/guardians can expect to receive information from the teachers about their child's learning in relation to the expected learning outcomes. It is important for teachers to have this communication with students and parents as all three team members play an important role in encouraging student learning.
Assessment, evaluation and communication of information about student learning are essential components of the educational process.
Communicating Student Learning
Reporting on student learning should be clear, accurate and of practical value to you as the parent/guardian. At Fairview Heights Elementary School teachers and administrators use a variety of ways to communicate your child's progress and achievement, some on a school-wide basis and others particular to individual classes and teachers. These methods include but are not limited to - goal setting sessions, student led conferences, curriculum sessions for parents/guardians, monthly newsletters, calendars, special events, student homework, home books, published stories, visits, phone calls, portfolios, conferences, and progress reports.
The school year is organized into three terms, each of which concludes with a progress report. Students will be evaluated in relation to the expected learning outcomes for that grade level. The narrative comments will indicate the degree of competence the student has demonstrated in relation to the outcomes, and not in comparison to other students in the class.
There are two scheduled parent/guardian/teacher conference, dates which are decided by the Department of Education. Parents/ guardians are encouraged to make an appointment with the teacher to discuss their child's progress at other times if they feel further conferencing is necessary. Appointments can be arranged by calling the school at 457-8953.
The teachers at FHES are committed to supporting all students in their learning. The majority of students follow the prescribed Provincial Learning Outcomes. However, for some students adaptations to their academic program are required. Parents are informed before any intervention such as resource support takes place.
The teachers at FHES believe in early identification of students with special considerations. The school has a process for identification, assessment and program planning for students with special needs. Because parents play a pivotal role in supporting their child's learning, they play an active role in program planning for their child. Referrals to the School Program Planning Team are made by the teacher but on occasion, may be requested by a parent.
The Program Planning Team consists of the classroom teacher, resource teacher, principal or vice principal, school psychologist and other teachers and parents as needed.
During the referral process, parents are consulted and written parental consent is required for any formal assessment. Parents are informed of the test results. These results along with other information are used in making adaptations to the student's program or in developing an Individual Program Plan (IPP). Parents/Guardians as participants of the PPT will be involved in the development of adaptations or IPP. The development and implementation of an Individual Program Plan follows the process outlined by the Department of Education.