I’ve written before about how proud I am of the changes we’ve made within our school to reporting and feedback this year. We’re not claiming to be perfect, but we’ve made huge strides forward in our shared understanding of what we report on, how we do it, what it means and how we use that information.
But as we move towards the end of the year and things feel rushed (especially as we move into Ramadan with reduced school hours and a drop in attendance as families take children out of school for celebration/travel), I think the key values we hold regarding reporting can get lost. As some of our teachers grow worried that they need to complete summative assessments before children leave (or move them forwards for children departing early) I wanted to share 2 key points to remember:
- We are grading learning, not work
This means that whatever learning the child has done can be used to inform and consider their grade. If you have a child, you know can meet the standard and they have shown you this in class but missed the final assessment, that’s okay. Yes, in an ideal world we’d like the assessment because we want an objective, independent check and we like to be data informed. But our focus is on learning, not pieces of work and we can still speak to the child’s progress (even if that progress is incomplete).
- Beginning, Developing and Independent are indicators of learning and progress, not value judgments of a child
If a child misses lots of work and you can only see that they were beginning to learn a standard (even if that child would be expected reach D or I) that’s okay too. You can add a comment along the lines of ‘as Mohammad missed our last unit on fractions I only saw a limited demonstration of his understanding, with additional practice I’m confident he would be able to …/over the summer it would be helpful to practice…’. We’re reporting on what they have learned, we’re not placing a value on the child, and we can do so confidently and honestly.
You don’t need to let children take assessments early (by a day or so is okay if your happy with that, but we don’t want them doing 4-5 assessments at once, or assessments 2-3 weeks early just to say they’re finished). You can look at the learning they are doing in class or conference with them to clarify their understanding of a topic to help you understand their progress. Again to reiterate, being data informed and having a rigorous learning and assessment practice is important, but balance this with the key value that we grade learning, not work.
This year I’ve reframed, developed and deepened my own understanding of Learning vs. Work; largely through the great online team learning course with Harvard’s Project Zero. My own learning here, plus the meaningful conversations I’ve had all year really shaped my response to our teachers worries about reporting for those children who may miss the end of the school year. I hope that, as the year draws to a close, the reminder that we grade learning; not work or children is a helpful one.