Senior School Assessment Policy
Pickering College promotes assessment, evaluation and reporting for the purpose of improving student learning, recognizing that every student is unique and each must have opportunities to achieve success according to his or her own interests, abilities and goals. Student learning is best accomplished through a shared partnership with students, parents, guardians, community members and educators.
The Purpose of Assessment
Assessment is the continual process of gathering and interpreting evidence of student learning in a way that promotes a positive learning experience. This process provides students and parents with descriptive feedback that guides students’ efforts to improve. The feedback given to students occurs at different stages of the process. It also allows teachers to make professional judgments about and report on student achievement based on established criteria and measured against overall and specific expectations for learning.
Pickering College supports the use of assessment in three ways:
- assessment as learning so that students set their own success criteria and learning goals,
- assessment for learning so students receive ongoing feedback to determine where students are in their learning and what they need to do to improve, and
- assessment of learning which involves the collecting and interpreting of evidence for the purpose of making professional judgments and communicating the student’s achievements to the parents. This occurs at or near the end of a learning cycle (e.g. unit and/or term) and is an evaluation of student success at that point in time.
Pickering College is committed to providing assessment, evaluation and reporting that is fair, equitable and transparent, and results in accurate information about student learning in relation to Ontario curriculum expectations or alternative expectations. Our goal is to summarize and communicate to parents/guardians, other teachers, and students themselves meaningful information such as what students know and can do well, and how they can improve and demonstrate their learning.
Purpose of the Policy
The policy specifies conditions for assessment practice that
- help students understand the established criteria used in course assessment methods;
- engage students actively in the assessment process;
- ensure consistency and fairness for all students in assessment and evaluation practices across the school;
- facilitate clear and complete communication among students, teachers and parents about the assessment and evaluation processes at Pickering College.
Teachers and students assume a number of responsibilities as they together engage in assessment practices that promote and support learning. Teachers will ensure that assessment, evaluation, and reporting strategies are valid and reliable, and lead to the improvement of learning for all students.
Teachers will use practices and procedures that
- are fair, transparent and equitable for all students;
- support the needs of all students, including those with special learning needs and those who are learning the language of instruction;
- are carefully planned to relate to the curriculum expectations, learning goals and, as much as possible, to the interests, learning styles and preferences, needs and experiences of all students;
- are communicated clearly to students and parents at the beginning of the school year or course and at other appropriate points throughout the school year or course;
- are ongoing, varied in nature, and administered over a period of time to provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate the full range of learning;
- provide ongoing descriptive feedback that is clear, specific, meaningful, and timely to support improved learning and achievement;
- develop students’ self-assessment skills to enable them to assess their own learning, set specific goals, and plan next steps for their learning;
- describe specific evaluation criteria to students prior to each assessment and evaluate students based on their achievement of these criteria;
- use exemplars and samples of student work where possible to model levels of achievement;
- use a variety of assessment methods;
- provide students with opportunities to demonstrate learning over time;
- provide regular, descriptive feedback and formative assessment to support student self-knowledge and promote student success;
- teach more than they test.
Parents/Guardians will be encouraged to support the learning of their child by establishing and maintaining high expectations, ensuring regular attendance, monitoring progress, communicating with teachers, supporting school expectations and setting learning goals with their child.
Students are responsible for providing evidence of their learning, reflecting upon and responding to feedback provided by their teachers, setting personal learning goals, and communicating with their teachers when they have concerns.
- demonstrate their learning through the assessment process;
- participate in the process of assessment and evaluation to support their development as self-directed learners and informed decision-makers;
- self-assess and self-evaluate when appropriate to check, track and deepen their understanding;
- meet established timelines for work completion and assessment deadlines;
- understand and accept consequences for cheating, plagiarizing, not completing work and submitting work late.
Evaluation occurs when teachers assess student achievement based on established criteria and specific expectations for learning.
Determining the Final Grade
Determining a final grade will involve teachers’ professional judgement and interpretation of evidence and should reflect the student’s most consistent level of achievement, with special consideration given to more recent evidence. The final grade consists of a grade for the course work and a grade for the culminating assessment with the following weighting:
Grade Course Work % Culminating Assessment %
Grades 9 to 12 70 30
Determining the Course Work Grade
This portion of the final grade consists of summative assessments conducted throughout the course. Evidence of student achievement is collected over time using multiple sources of evidence such as tests, assignments, rich performance tasks, demonstrations, projects and /or essays.
The course work grade will:
- represent evidence gathered from a variety of completed assessments;
- reflect individual student’s achievement of course expectations;
- address the achievement chart categories:
Knowledge and Understanding
- emphasize students’ most consistent level of achievement within a unit and throughout the year;
- reflect individual achievement and accountability in co-operative learning and group assignments;
- include summative assessments preceded by opportunities for students to practice skills, demonstrate knowledge and receive feedback;
- be derived from summative assessments that are consistent in nature and complexity across sections of a course.
Determining the Culminating Assessment Grade
This portion of the final grade is based on one or culminating assessments administered toward the end of the course. The assessment may be in the form of an examination, a performance, a portfolio, an essay, or other method of evaluation suitable to the course content and expectations. The weighting of the final evaluation is determined by grade level as indicated above.
A culminating assessment will:
- evaluate individual students’ achievement of key course expectations;
- address the achievement chart categories;
- be similar to other assessments that students have encountered throughout the course;
- be consistent in nature and complexity across sections of a course;
- be completed by Grades 9 to 12 students in order to achieve the course credit.
Learning Skills and Work Habits
The development of learning skills and work habits are an integral part of a student’s learning. These are important tools in the learning process and help students to achieve specific expectations. There is a direct relationship between developing and practicing learning skills and improving understanding and achievement.
Learning skills and work habits include:
- Independent work
The development of the six learning skills and working habits are indicated on the report card each reporting period with the following rating categories: Excellent, Good, Satisfactory, Needs Improvement. Teachers may also include anecdotal comments about the student’s learning skills and work habits.
Teachers assess, evaluate and report on learning skills and work habits separately from their assessment, evaluation and reporting on the achievement of curriculum expectations. Unless the learning skills and work habits are an integral part of the curriculum expectations, their assessment is not included in the determination of a student’s final grade.
Meeting deadlines is an acceptable, reasonable and important practice. Pickering College promotes student responsibility for the completion of class work, homework and assignments in accordance with agreed upon timelines.
Teachers will set deadlines that include student input as much as possible. Teachers will designate the type of deadline: some deadlines are negotiable, some flexible, and some absolute.
When students anticipate difficulties in meeting assessment deadlines, they must:
- inform the teacher in a timely fashion before the due date;
- arrange assistance if unable to complete an assessment because of insufficient knowledge or skill;
- negotiate a new due date – except when the deadline is absolute – when legitimate, extenuating circumstances prevail.
Consequences for Missing Deadlines:
Students who fail to meet deadlines face consequences. Students who miss established deadlines may not provide sufficient evidence of achievement in the course and this lack of evidence may have a negative effect on the final grade. When students miss a deadline, they may
- receive deducting marks for late assignments;
- receive a maximum 10% penalty for late assignments;
- receive a deduction of the full value of the assignment, if there has been no prior negotiation, negotiations have not been met or an absolute deadline has passed.
In responding to late and missed assignments, teachers will take into account individual students, their learning styles and needs, and the impact of these decisions on student learning. Wherever possible, students will be given every opportunity to succeed.
In order to maximize student learning, teachers will implement sound assessment and evaluation strategies that may include:
- Collaborating with other staff to prepare a part or full year calendar of major due dates for every course;
- Planning for major assignments to be completed in stages, so that students are less likely to be faced with an all or nothing situation at the last minute;
- Asking students to clarify the reason for not completing the assignment;
- Holding teacher-student conferences;
- Taking into consideration legitimate reasons for missed deadlines;
- Maintaining ongoing communication with students and/or parents about due dates and late assignments, and scheduling conferences with parents if a pattern of failing to submit work on time persists;
- Helping students develop better time management skills;
- Setting up a student contract that requires parental signature;
- Referring the student to the Advisor, followed by the Director of the Senior School
- Reviewing whether the need exists for extra support for English language learners;
- Reviewing whether the students require special learning support;
- Requiring the student to complete a late or missed assignment;
- Providing alternative assignments or tests/exams, where in the teacher’s professional judgment, it is reasonable to do so.
Writing Tests and Missed Tests
With the exception of diagnostic testing and pop style quizzes, students are required to write advance notice tests on the dates specified by the teacher. An alternate test at a different time may be arranged before or, immediately after a sanctioned absence from the test. School sanctioned excuses include a pre-existing function, excursion or sports match that is arranged by or with the approval of the school or a medically supported illness or an injury on or before the day of the test.
It is the responsibility of the student who misses a test to contact and notify their teacher during a period of at least one academic day prior to the function, excursion or sports match. In the case of illness or injury, students must arrange a time to write the test immediately upon their return. In the case of a protracted absence, contact in the form of an email or phone call should be made to make testing arrangements. A student who fails to do this may be academically penalized. In addition, it is incumbent upon the student to voluntarily provide a note or copy of a note, from the parent verifying the reason for the absence. A skipped test may result in a zero.
The Director of Senior School may have meetings arranged for students who skip a test or who repeatedly miss tests within a course and/or across their subjects. Parents may be contacted at any time to confirm absences from tests or to discuss the circumstances.
A student who misses a test due to a school suspension will not be penalized. However, the student will be expected to write the test immediately upon return to class.
Note that the above guidelines for “tests” may also apply to presentations and other tasks that are time-sensitive and schedule dependent.
Academic Integrity Statement
Integrity is one of Pickering College’s five Guiding Values and, as such, it is of utmost importance. Students at Pickering are expected and encouraged to demonstrate integrity in all that they do, whether academic, behavioural, or social. Dishonesty, plagiarism, or cheating will not be tolerated. Computer programs, math assignments, science labs and homework all fall under the Academic Integrity Statement.
Definition of Plagiarism / Academic Dishonesty
Academic dishonesty is when students intentionally misrepresent themselves or their work to their teacher. Plagiarism is when students submit someone else’s work as their own. Examples include:
- Using another author’s words without quotation marks or acknowledgement;
- Using another author’s ideas without acknowledgement;
- Submitting the same or similar work as another current or past student;
- Submitting work that has been significantly altered or generated by a tutor, parent, or friends;
- Sharing their work or files with another student;
- Using an online translator to create their work;
- Submitting the same work for more than one course without explicit permission from each teacher;
- Using images, designs, processes, digital, audio and video files, and internet resources without crediting the source;
Steps to Avoiding Plagiarism
If students are in doubt about their content or about how to acknowledge the true author according to protocol, they must consult with their teacher or library staff before submitting their work.
Students should never lend or give their work to other students. Electronic data lives forever and students could be found guilty of plagiarism years after they shared their file.
Overwhelmingly, students plagiarize because they are under pressure to complete their work quickly. To avoid finding themselves in a time crunch, students must plan their work carefully and stick to timelines. Students should always communicate with their teachers if a deadline will not be met.
When researching, students must avoid cutting and pasting from the internet, even if it is just for their own notes. They must take the time to read, understand, and then write their notes in their own words.
Students should reference everything. Be sure to follow MLA or APA guidelines when creating their bibliography or list of references.
Definition of Academic Dishonesty:
Any attempt to have an unfair advantage in a quiz, test or exam, or any other assessment, is considered cheating. Examples of cheating are:
- Taking cheat notes into a quiz, test or exam;
- Attempting to see another student’s test or exam;
- Talking during a quiz, test, or exam;
- Using permissible technology (laptop, programmable calculator, translator) to hide or access required information;
- Possessing a cell phone or MP3 player during a test;
- Having unauthorized possession of or knowledge of the content of a quiz, test, or exam before it is administered.
Consequences for Academic Dishonesty, Plagiarism, or Cheating:
The Spirit of Discipline at Pickering College, as explained in the Student Handbook, guides our application of consequences for a breach of academic integrity. Once found guilty, a student must expect one or more of the following consequences:
- A grade of zero on the plagiarized work;
- Parent, custodian, and advisor written notification;
- Documentation in the student’s Pickering College file;
- Suspension from school;
- Expulsion from school.
Key Assessment Terms
Achievement chart categories refer to four broad categories of knowledge and skills that are common to both the elementary and secondary divisions and to all subject areas and disciplines. The categories represent four broad areas of knowledge and skills within which the expectations for any given subject can be organized. Teachers’ address these categories when planning program and developing assessments in order to provide a balanced program and to encourage students to develop higher cognitive and creative thinking skills. The categories are: Knowledge/Understanding, Thinking, Communication, and Application.
Achievement levels are the brief descriptions of four different degrees of student achievement of the provincial curriculum expectations for any given subject/discipline. Level 3 is the “provincial standard”. Parents of students achieving at level 3 in a particular grade or course can be confident that their children will be prepared for work in the next grade or the next course. Level 2 identifies achievement that approaches the standard. Level 4 identifies achievement that surpasses the standard.
Assessment is the process of gathering information from a variety of sources that accurately reflects how well a student is achieving identified curriculum expectations. This includes:
- Assessment as learning: Students are actively engaged in this assessment process; that is they monitor their own learning; use assessment feedback from teacher, self and peers to determine next steps; and set individual learning goals. This focuses on the role of the student in their own learning.
- Assessment for learning: The on-going process of gathering and interpreting evidence about student learning for the purpose of determining where students are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get there.
- Assessment of learning: The process of collecting and interpreting evidence for the purpose of summarizing learning at a given point in time, make judgements about the quality of student learning on the basis of established criteria, and to assign a value to represent that quality.
- Assignment for evaluation is used to evaluate student learning. Most assignments for evaluation are rich performance tasks, demonstrations, projects, or essays. Assignments for evaluation do not include ongoing homework.
- Diagnostic assessment is the gathering of evidence that reflects students’ prior learning. This type of assessment often occurs at the beginning of instruction. It is used to determine student strengths and needs and to plan instruction. It is not used in determining the report card grade.
- Differentiated instruction is an approach to instruction designed to maximize growth by considering the needs of each student at his or her current stage of development and offering that student a learning experience that responds to his or her individual needs.
- Evaluation is the process of judging the quality of student learning on the basis of established performance standards and assigning a value to represent that quality (assessment of learning).
- Formative assessment is the gathering of evidence during the learning process and is used to provide direction for improvement for individual students and adjustment to instructional program. It can be used to determine the report card grade when there is not sufficient evidence from summative assessments.
- Homework is the work that students do at home to practice skills, consolidate knowledge and skills, and/or prepare for the next class.
- Learning skills and work habits can be demonstrated by a student across all subjects, courses, and grades and in other behavior at school. Learning skills and work habits promote student achievement of the curriculum expectations.
- Summative assessment is the evaluation of evidence throughout the learning process (occurs at the end of important segments of student learning) to provide a record of student achievement relative to the expectations of a course. It is used in determining the report card grade.
The philosophy and much of the terminology and guiding principles within this Assessment Policy are derived from the Ministry of Education document, Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation, and Report in Ontario School, 2010.