What do we believe about assessment?
Belvedere Elementary School is a Fairfax County Public School that addresses county and Virginia State standards. We assess and report on student learning according to state and local requirements. As an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP) Candidate school, we also believe in assessing and reporting on additional elements in authentic ways in order to provide a more holistic view of each student as a thinker and learner.
As a PYP candidate school, we assess the acquisition of knowledge, understanding of concepts, mastering of skills, development of attitudes and the drive and ability to apply knowledge in order to take action and make the world a better place. We believe this type of assessment provides a more accurate picture of each student’s progress. Essentially, we believe in using effective, authentic assessment that fairly addresses each aspect of a learner, provides feedback, and guides instruction. The end goal is to deepen and extend our student’s learning.
Why do we assess students?
The purpose of assessment is to gather and analyze student information in order to provide feedback, drive and inform instruction. Assessment informs teachers about what students accomplish externally and internally throughout the learning process. We then take the data gathered and use it to guide and differentiate our instruction in order to effectively teach our students. In standards-based education, continuous assessment is needed to analyze students’ understanding of the standards. Continuous assessment also informs teachers of effective practices and student growth. Formative assessment allows the teacher to evaluate student understanding as well as instructional practices throughout a unit.
The purpose of a summative assessment is to check students’ understanding at the end of a unit of study. We use these assessments to provide feedback and determine which students may need interventions or extensions in order for them to reach their full potential. While similar to formative assessments, summative assessments cover a wider range of information to assess students’ overall learning of a concept, unit, or subject.
Essential Agreements Regarding Assessment
What are our agreements about assessment as a community of learners?
This is a commitment to our community of parents, staff and students. It establishes a framework for implementing the assessment process.
- We agree to be principled and caring as we collaborate, encourage and support one another in the process of learning to more effectively implement the PYP philosophy and practices of assessment.
- Teachers are risk-takers as we engage in peer evaluations to improve assessments.
- We provide feedback on student development of the Learner Profile and Attitudes.
- We use formative assessments to assess prior knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes and points of inquiry.
- We use formative assessments to provide feedback to students and teachers and to help drive instruction.
- We use a variety of strategies and measuring tools for assessments.
- We explain summative assessments to the students at the beginning of the unit so they understand the expected outcome.
- We allow opportunities for students to help design assessments and rubrics.
- We allow the opportunity for students and teachers to engage in self-reflection. We recognize that self-evaluation is one of our most powerful resources.
- We collaborate with special education and resource teachers in the development of assessments.
- We agree to address all five elements of the PYP. (Transdisciplinary skills, concepts, knowledge, attitudes and actions of the PYP.)
- Each year, teachers will evaluate units of inquiry in order to identify and implement improvements.
Assessing: How do we discover what students have learned?
Within the PYP, assessment is an integral part of the teaching and learning process. Assessment provides meaningful information to students, teachers, parents, and school administration for continuous improvement in curriculum, instruction, meaningful work, and assessment tasks. Formative and summative assessments drive instruction providing feedback to both teachers and students.
Belvedere teachers are encouraged to use a variety of assessment tools and strategies, to provide for differentiated instruction and to provide a balanced view of the students.
- Formative Assessment Formative assessment allows the teacher to evaluate student understanding as well as instructional practices throughout the learning experiences during an instructional unit. This type of assessment allows for differentiation beginning with assessing the student’s prior knowledge. With this information, teachers plan learning experiences that continue to foster student inquiry. Formative assessments are interwoven throughout learning experiences in order for both teachers and students to reflect on the student’s understanding of the concepts and provide feedback.
- Summative Assessment Summative assessments occur at the conclusion of a particular unit and give students the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned or how they have grown with regards to the knowledge, concepts, skills, and attitudes, and allows students to take action upon what they have learned in the unit. The central idea is the focus of these assessments and both teachers and students play an integral part in the creation and reflection of these types of assessments and their rubrics.
Recording: How do we collect and analyze the data?
Assessments could include but are not limited to:
- Observations Observations allow teachers to evaluate specific behaviors as they pertain to learning. Teachers focus on one particular skill or concept and are often accompanied by a checklist or recording sheet (see Checklists and Anecdotal Records under Assessment Tools) in order to provide feedback.
- Conferring Conferences allow teachers, students, and parents/guardians to reflect upon a student’s understanding of concepts, skills or attitudes as well as elaborate on the student’s growth in an area. Conferences can be student-teacher, student-parent, student-parent-teacher or other combinations of students and their academic support systems. The role of the conference is for students to demonstrate their growth in a particular area (concept, skill, attitude and/or action) with work samples as evidence, as well as set goals for continued growth in future learning opportunities.
- Performance assessments Performance assessments provide information on student learning in tasks that require students to actively engage in their learning through activities. Some examples include manipulating materials, demonstrating skills, solving multi- stage problems, or participating in debates/discussions in order to demonstrate their understanding.
- Open-ended tasks An assessment where students create or respond to a problem or prompt where there are multiple correct answers.
- Selected Responses Assessments including binary choice items (true/false), matching items and/or multiple choice in which one correct answer is required. These assessments are typically focused on a particular concept and/or unit of study. District assessments are also an example of selected response assessments.
- State and District mandated tests Students at Belvedere Elementary participate in state-mandated tests such as KMRA, WADREA, DRA2, MRA,SOLs, VGLA binders, VAAP, and eCart assessments to evaluate a student’s understanding of Virginia state standards yearly.
Tools used for assessment could include but are not limited to:
- Rubrics A rubric is a scoring tool that explicitly represents the performance expectations for an assignment or piece of work. A rubric divides the assigned work into component parts and provides clear descriptions of the characteristics of the work associated with each component, at varying levels of mastery. Rubrics can be used for a wide array of assignments: papers, projects, oral presentations, artistic performances, group projects, etc. Rubrics can be used as scoring or grading guides, to provide formative feedback to support and guide ongoing learning efforts, or both.
- Exemplars Exemplars are examples of the quality work that is expected of students. These could demonstrate what is required to achieve the highest score on a rubric. Exemplars offer open-ended performance tasks that encourage student’s thinking. Standards-based rubrics are exemplars that focus on processes and communication and annotated anchor papers are exemplars that accompany problem-solving tasks. Exemplars also offer differentiated problem-solving.
- Checklists Checklists are customized steps to help students reach larger learning goals. They create observable evidence of learning and clarify what students know and don't know. Checklists focus learning and help support students as they work toward specific learning. They help students synthesize knowledge and meaning and are building blocks that enable students to work through difficult concepts or processes to reach predetermined learning goals. Checklists are pathways that lead to depth and clarity in learning.
- Anecdotal records Anecdotal records are notes recorded by the classroom teacher to adjust the instruction accordingly. These notes serve to document and describe student learning relative to concept development, reading, social interaction, communication skills, etc. Anecdotal records focus in on specific learning outcomes and are recorded frequently. Information about strengths and weaknesses are included and notes are recorded at various times to get a complete profile of learning.
- Continuums A continuum reflects a progression of skills that are needed for all learners to be successful. Continuums are developed to provide teachers with a way of looking at what children can actually do and how they can do it, in order to inform planning for further development. Continuums make explicit some of the indicators, or descriptors of behavior, that will help teachers identify how children are constructing and communicating the meaning of the specific subject or task. Continuums can also aid communication with parents by helping teachers share specific information about what their child can do.
Reporting: How do we communicate information about assessment?
Through our reporting practices, we provide a holistic view of each student. Belvedere reports on students’ knowledge related to each content area, understanding of particular concepts, mastery of skills, development of attitudes, and ability and drive to take action. We strive to ensure that our reporting practices are both fair and helpful for parents and students.
Methods for reporting include:
- Report Cards
- PYP Essential Elements Report
- Science Inquiry Night
- Parent Portfolio Viewing