Assessment and reporting practices and procedures support all students, including those with special needs and those who are learning a second or additional language.
“How do we come up with a mark or grade that is fair to diverse learners? The key is to maintain high standards but provide multiple opportunities sand methods of learning for students.”
—Jennifer Katz, 2012
Students with diverse needs and/or English Language Learners (ELL) can master the curricular competencies through personalized instruction and assessment methods. Inclusive assessment and reporting practices allow all students equitable access to learning and achievement.
Second Language Learners:
“When we work with language learners, summative assessments can be a bit tricky to navigate because we have to account for the proficiency in relation to the content and ensure that any judgements about their work quality and mastery are cognizant of their proficiency relative to the task.”
—Arnett & Bourgoin, 2017
Assessment in a second language environment can be complex, as language proficiency sometimes impacts students’ abilities to demonstrate their understanding of concepts. Despite the added complexities of a second language classroom, assessment practices that offer students authentic opportunities to show what they know, can do, and understand continue to be relevant. Practices such as a variety of formative assessments and offering student choice in summative assessment is of utmost importance as it permits students to demonstrate their understanding in many ways.
English Language Learners:
Regular reporting procedures are used to report the progress of English Language Learners (ELL) who meet the expectations of the provincial learning standards.
If an ELL student is not able to follow the learning standards, letter grades/performance levels should not be given and the written report should contain comments describing what the student can do, areas which require further attention or development, and ways of supporting the student’s language acquisition. These comments must refer to the student’s english language acquisition and/or the use of adaptations to support english language learning in the classroom.
For some students targeted accommodations and individually modified programs may be required to support the achievement of learning standards or to meet personal Individual Education Plan (IEP) goals and objectives. In North Vancouver, the principles of Differentiated Instruction, Differentiated Assessment and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) are recognized practices that create an instructional environment that is accessible for all students. Differentiation and universal design are instructional frameworks that promote multiple means of engagement, representation and expression. Differentiated assessment through multiple means of expression allows all students to demonstrate their learning.
Learners on an Adapted Program:
Within the classroom, ongoing curriculum based assessment and standardized screening assists teachers in determining whether a student requires adaptations to promote their success as a learner. The Teaching to Diversity Checklist is used to provide students with an initial level of support that specifically identifies certain adaptations to curriculum, instruction and assessment that the student will receive. The student’s response to these adaptations determines whether additional assessment and support is required. Specialist teaching personnel often assist with the implementation of these adaptations.
Students on an adapted program:
- receive a letter grade, percentage or performance standard that demonstrates their progress toward the learning outcomes in the curriculum
- have included in the comments section of the report card specific reference to the fact that their progress is supported through adaptations to curriculum, instruction and/or assessment
Students who have an Individual Education Plan:
An IEP is a documented plan developed for a student with formally identified special needs that summarizes and records the individualization of the student’s educational program. It contains long term goals, short term objectives and specific strategies aimed at supporting the student’s success across one or more developmental domains.
A full review of a student’s Individual Education Plan must occur no less than once a year with parent consultation.
Communicating Student Learning: IEP Progress Reporting
Progress monitoring of every goal in a student’s IEP should be ongoing, and must be reported to parents no less than once per term. The appropriate method of reporting progress is determined by the nature of the goal / short-term objective:
- Many students with formally identified special needs are able to meet or exceed learning outcomes when they are effectively supported through adaptations. For these students, progress reporting is integrated into the report card to communicate student learning with specific reference made to the adaptations provided.
- Some IEP goals focus on areas of student need that do not align with a specific curricular area. Some examples of this include: fine and gross motor development, independence with personal care, augmentative communication, self-regulation, orientation and mobility. Progress reporting on these goals is provided to students and parents on a separate document developed by the student’s case manager in consultation with their support team.
Learners on a Modified Program:
For a select number of students, a modified program is required when extensive adaptations are not sufficient to enable the student to demonstrate learning in relation to the outcomes set out in the curriculum.
A student may only be placed on a modified program if:
- A psycho-educational assessment has confirmed that the student has a significant cognitive impairment and limited adaptive functioning.
- The student has a formal ministry identification in a low incidence category and has an IEP clearly outlining specific goals the student is working on toward the attainment of a School Completion Certificate (Evergreen).
- Extensive adaptations provided throughout the student’s elementary school experience have proven unsuccessful in enabling the student to demonstrate learning in relation to the curriculum.
- The student’s parent(s) / legal guardian(s) have been consulted and are in agreement that the student should be placed on a modified program.
Students who are incapacitated due to a psychological or physical health condition are not placed on a modified program, as it is expected that they will continue to work toward a Dogwood Diploma through the support of extensive adaptations to curriculum, instruction and assessment. Students may be eligible to receive “Standing Granted (SG) and/or Aegrotat Standing” (AS) for course work that could not be completed due to serious illness, hospitalization, entering into school late or leaving early.
Students on a modified program will be assigned course codes that indicate a modified program (i.e., XSIEP, XLDC) and receive a report card that includes:
- comments in relation to each of the goals / short term objectives in the student’s IEP that are being focused on in each modified course
- an indicator of progress toward the achievement of these goals / short term objectives using performance standards language
Click here for ideas to try in the classroom
1) Pro-actively plan to allow multiple points of entry for all students.
2) Collaborate with the student’s case manager and or/resource teachers to identify and implement adaptations.
3) Identify specific accommodations that have been in place for the student within your report card comments.
Click here to watch related video content
Shelley Moore: Transforming Inclusive Education
Shelley Moore discusses her research and how to find value in the day-to-day practice in our classrooms in terms of inclusive education.
Click here for additional reading suggestions
To learn more, check out these texts:
- Katy Arnett & Renée Bourgoin (2017). Access for Success. Toronto, ON: Pearson Education Canada.
- Arnett, K. (2013). Languages for all: How to support and challenge students in a second language classroom. Toronto, ON: Pearson Education Canada.
- Lyster, R. (2016) Vers une approche intégrée en immersion. Anjou, QC: Éditions CEC.
- Shelley Moore Website.
- BC Ministry of Education (2009b). A Guide to Adaptations and Modifications. Victoria, BC: Ministry of Education.
- BC Ministry of Education (2016). Special Education Services: A Manual of Policies, Procedures and Guidelines. Victoria, BC: Ministry of Education.
- NVSD Inclusion Education Handbook.
- Cooper, Damian. (2006). Talk about Assessment. Toronto, ON: Nelson Canada Elhi.
- O’Connor, K. (2010). A Repair Kit for Grading. Portland, OR. Pearson Assessment Training Institute.
- Moss, C., Brookhart, S. (2012). Learning Targets: Helping students aim for understanding in today’s lesson. Alexandria, VA. ASCD.
- Brookhart, S. (2017). How to use grading to improve learning. Alexandria, VA. ASCD.
- Schimmer, T. (2016). Grading from the Inside Out. Bloomington, IN. 47404. Solution Tree Press.
- Winger, T. (2005). Grading to communicate. Educational Leadership, 63(3), 61-65.
- Wormeli, R. (2011). Redos and Retakes Done Right. Educational Leadership, 69(3), 22-26. ASCD.