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Growing Success: Report Card

Grading Scale
A Excellent B Very Good
C+ Good C- Adequate
D Poor F Failure

Criteria for Mark Evidence

“The achievement chart for each subject/discipline is a standard province-wide guide and is to be used by all
teachers as a framework within which to assess and evaluate student achievement of the expectations in the
particular subject or discipline. It enables teachers to make consistent judgments about the quality of student
learning based on clear performance standards and on a body of evidence collected over time. It also provides
teachers with a foundation for developing clear and specific feedback for students and parents” (p. 16).

As the quote demonstrates, the purpose of the achievement chart is to help teachers evaluate student work fairly,
according to specific performance standards. These performance standards allow teachers to make value judgments
based on how well each individual student met the required learning goals. Furthermore, the achievement chart
guides teacher feedback, as they can comment on how a student achieved the learning goals and/or what the student
Feasible for teachers

needs to do in order to improve in relation to the various performance standards. Therefore, because the
achievement chart facilitates criterion-referenced assessment, it is equitable for all students, as students are no longer
evaluated based on how well they do in comparison to each other (norm-referenced assessment) (p. 19).
The achievement chart has its drawbacks, including the separation of performance standards. More specifically, the
four categories of knowledge and skills (Knowledge & Understanding, Thinking, Communication and Application)
are assessed individually, which calls into question how teachers are making these judgments. Is it possible to assess
thinking and application separately from knowledge and understanding, when a student must have knowledge and
understanding of course content in order to think critically and/or apply that knowledge to real-world experiences?
Similarly, how can a student demonstrate communication skills if they do not have knowledge and understanding of
course content? Without such knowledge, what are students communicating? The point is, separately evaluating
performance standards does not provide an accurate assessment of student learning. We cannot expect students to
exhibit any one of these standards individually. Rather, all four categories of knowledge and skills are in use
simultaneously. Thus, I do not think it is practical to expect teachers to know how to effectively assess each of these
categories separately, as they are all interrelated. As the Growing Success (2010) document reveals, “the four
categories should be considered as interrelated, reflecting the wholeness and interconnectedness of learning” (p. 17),
and yet, teachers are expected to assess each of the categories separately. It just doesn’t make sense!
“The achievement chart also identifies four levels of achievement. Specific ‘qualifiers’ are used with the descriptors
in the achievement chart to describe student performance at each of the four levels – the qualifier limited is used for
level 1; some for level 2; considerable for level 3; and a high degree of or thorough for level 4” (p. 18).

The quote provided demonstrates the vagueness of language used to assess the level of performance students have
achieved in relation to the curriculum expectations or learning goals. More specifically, when a student receives
back an assessment, how are they supposed to interpret the terms “limited,” “some,” “considerable,” and
“thorough?” What do these qualifiers even mean? How do the qualifiers help students improve their learning if they
are not provided with constructive feedback? Therefore, the policy to use specific qualifiers for each level of the
performance standards does not guarantee student success. Detailed descriptions of what is expected of students
should be provided instead of the use of vague terms. Language should be student-friendly if it is to have any real
impact on student learning and achievement. A suggestion is to expand on each of the qualifiers by providing
concrete examples of assessment expectations. For any particular assessment, teachers should describe what
“limited” looks like as opposed to “thorough.” Similarly, teachers can showcase student exemplars of the different
Practical for Students

levels of achievement, visually showing students what “some degree of effectiveness” looks like in comparison to
“considerable degree of effectiveness” (p. 20).
An example of how the Growing Success (2010) document does promote student success is its policy on student
interest and engagement. To be more specific, the policy addresses how “students’ interest in learning and their
belief that they can learn are critical to their success” (p. 29). That is, “ . . . the use of assessment for learning and as
learning – including strategies such as sharing learning goals and success criteria, providing feedback in relation to
goals, and developing students’ ability to self-assess – [is] a way of increasing students’ engagement in and
commitment to learning” (p. 29).

What the quote mentioned above demonstrates is a commitment to student learning and achievement. This is
obtained through the co-construction of knowledge with students. Teachers are encouraged to share learning goals
and create success criteria with students so that they know what is required of them in order to succeed. This is
practical for students because they take ownership of their learning by participating in the decision-making process.
Instead of the teacher lecturing to students about what needs to be done in order to achieve the learning goals,
students brainstorm amongst themselves the best ways to meet these goals in relation to their individual learning
interests, needs and strengths. Furthermore, on-going descriptive feedback from the teacher will encourage and
guide students to meet their goals. This can occur both formally (i.e. written feedback provided to students on
rubrics) and informally (i.e. daily conversations with students about where they are and where they need to be). Peer
and self-assessments are also practical strategies for encouraging student success. When guided, students can be
effective assessors of their own work. For example, providing students with a checklist will help them assess not
only the progress of their peers, but also themselves. Thus, I think the Growing Success document provides some
good strategies for promoting student success.
“The development of learning skills and work habits is an integral part of a student’s learning. To the extent
possible, however, the evaluation of learning skills and work habits, apart from any that may be included as part of a
curriculum expectation in a subject or course [i.e. Physical Education], should not be considered in the
determination of a student’s grades. Assessing, evaluating, and reporting on the achievement of curriculum
expectations and on the demonstration of learning skills and work habits separately allows teachers to provide
information to the parents and student that is specific to each of the two areas of achievement” (p. 10).

As the quote demonstrates, students are not numerically graded on their learning skills or work habits (p. 45). This
reflects real-world experiences like job appraisals and evaluations that all students will experience in the future. To
give a student a mark for their learning skills or work habits would be unethical, because they are always learning
and improving as they gain knowledge and experience. How can we grade our students on the habits and skills that
they will continuously learn and develop throughout their lives?
Powerful for learners

In addition, the Growing Success (2010) document will help students succeed with the curriculum, become
responsible, motivated and successful citizens because “as students move through the grades, they develop and then
B consolidate their learning skills and work habits in preparation for postsecondary education and the world of work”
(p. 12). For example, specific guidance and career education programs encourage students to “understand the
concepts related to lifelong learning, interpersonal relationships, and career planning; develop learning skills, social
skills, a sense of social responsibility and the ability to formulate and pursue educational and career goals; and apply
this learning to their lives and work in the school and the community” (p. 14). This is especially powerful for
learners when they practically engage with the learning skills and work habits in specialized courses including
Careers and Co-operative Education, for example. In these courses, students learn how to write effective cover
letters and resumes, experience mock interviews, research postsecondary options and/or work opportunities, practice
job/placement hunting, etc. These are the valuable knowledge and skills students will take away with them once
they graduate high school.

Therefore, the Growing Success document’s emphasis on assessing learning skills and work habits separately from
curriculum expectations does encourage students to not only succeed by meeting curriculum expectations, but also,
become responsible and motivated citizens. Far too often, learning is equated with achieving high grades and
covering the most amount of information in the least amount of time. However, this perspective needs to change.
The focus should be on cultivating students’ learning skills and work habits, the knowledge and competences they
will need once they enter the workforce. Thus, I appreciate how the Growing Success document separates learning
skills and work habits from the evaluation of curriculum expectations. By using the terms Excellent, Good,
Satisfactory and Needs Improvement to evaluate learning skills and work habits (p. 45), teachers better replicate and
prepare students for what they will experience in the future as working and contributing members of society.

Overall Grade: C+