Assessment and Reporting Progress
King's View Academy has a low-anxiety, flexible and continuous approach to the way we do assessment. Assessment can be a significant source of anxiety for many students. Assessment also serves everyone's needs by providing information on how the student is progressing in his/her learning, and ultimately progressing through the outcome list for a particular course.
At KVA we start with the curriculum documents for the courses we teach (all can be found here.) The expectation, by the Nova Scotia Department of Education, is that each student in a particular course will learn and reach mastery of the knowledge and skills defined by the set of outcomes. All outcomes are reachable by any student in any class, as long as that student has the pre-requisite knowledge to start that class, and that student is an effective learner.
The assessment approach of KVA uses these outcomes as the vision of success. We assess mastery as interpreted by content experts who support KVA learners. The content expert is chosen to support KVA learners based on their expertise in a specific content area and their pedagogical experience. This expertise allows them to make trustworthy judgments on specifically what knowledge and skills are indicated by the outcomes, as well as what evidence, observed or collected from learners, constitutes mastery of any given outcome.
Additionally, assessment is continuous. One of the strengths of our educational model is the time that content experts and students can spend one-on-one. During this time the content expert is continuously assessing the student's grasp of foundational/pre-requisite knowledge, assessing the student's learning skills, and making judgments about how much mastery has been achieved and what the most approriate "next work" will be. This relationship is at the heart of a KVA student's benefit from KVA content experts.
Every outcome mastered or partially mastered is recorded and reported by each content expert, as they observe it. Part of the communication between content expert and student is this ongoing progress.
Students can continue working toward increasing mastery of any subject for as long as they choose, and are encouraged to revisit content until it has been 100% mastered. Grades are never withdrawn or reduced - only progress is recorded. This way, success is determined by the student (only supported and assessed by the content expert).
A bit more detail on how we Evaluate and Assess at KVA...
First, a few definitions:
- Outcome: A statement of knowledge and skill. Outcomes are used to articulate the knowledge and skills that form the content of an educational program. Alternate forms include Objectives (plans to learn specific knowledge and skills) and the Syllabus (Concepts and Topics covered in a course). Outcomes provide a guide to teachers and learners when deciding the topic (including specifics, extent, depth) as well as pacing and assessment. In a sense, the list of outcomes is the contract so that everyone involved (learner, teacher, content expert, school administration, post-secondary institution to which the student is applying, and the governing education body) is clear on what is being learned.
- Evaluation: Methods of investigation for which evidence of a student's learning and mastery is the result. Common evaluations are test, exam, essay, quiz, assignment, presentation, project, speech, demonstration, etc. Evaluation is designed to give evidence of a student's understanding and skill. Multiple evaluations over time provide the evidence for the content expert to create an assessment of a learner's mastery of a content area. Observation and discussion/conversation are also valid and effective forms of evaluation.
- Assessment: Created based on the evidence of evaluation. Assessment is a complex statement of a student's mastery of a body of knowledge and skills. The content expert is the person at KVA who knows and decides what specific knowledge and skills satisfy the outcome, and thus show mastery. When a student has demonstrated repeated (reliable) mastery in this context, at KVA, a progress grade of 1 is reported for that student's mastery of that outcome.
- Mastery: A high level of understanding or skill. The specific level of mastery is very much related to the specific outcome that articulates what is to be mastered. Some mastery is technical, while other mastery is theoretical. Mastery of a topic in Math 7 is very different from Mastery of the same topic in grade 11, just as Mastery in Physics is very different from mastery in English Language Arts. The content expert's training, education and experience is the final judge of learner mastery at KVA.
- Final Grade: A number given to represent that student's mastery of the course content. It is given after a specific course has ended. The final grade, at KVA, represents the portion of outcomes in a given course that has been mastered (it can include partial mastery across multiple outcomes) as compared to the full set of outcomes. For example, if a student has mastered 20 outcomes in a course that has a full set of 25 outcomes, that student's Final grade would be 20/25 or 80%. If the student or an admissions department wants to know which outcomes the student has mastered (or partially mastered), KVA can provide this information.
- Mastery Progress Grade. A number that represents a learner's current total of mastered and partially mastered outcomes in a course. At KVA we internally communicate mastery to students in terms of total outcomes completed to date. For example if a student shows mastery of 4 outcomes within the first 2 weeks of school starting, in a course that has a total of 40 outcomes, that student's Mastery Progress Grade would be reported as 4/40 or 10%. As time passes, and that students continue to mastery the content, the Mastery Progress Grade continues to increase.
- In-Progress Grade: A number given to represent that student's mastery of the course content. It is given before a specific course has ended. This number is externally communicated on transcripts for admissions purposes, when needed. As the final grade is over the full year, the in-progress grade is given as the portion of outcomes mastered (i.e., the Mastery Progress Grade) divided by the portion of the school year that has progressed. For example, the above student who has mastered 4 of 40 outcomes in the first 2 weeks (of the 40 week school year) would have a mastery progress grade of 10%. The portion of time that would have passed is 2/40 weeks, or 5%. That student's In-Progress grade would then be outcomes/time, or 10%/5%, or 200%. Obviously we do not report more than 100%, so the student's In-Progress Grade would be 100%. If the student continues at this exact pace, he/she would master another 4 outcomes every week and reach the total 40 outcomes in 20 weeks (i.e., 100% of the outcomes mastered in 20 weeks, or 50% of the year). Another student who is mastering 3 outcomes every 4 weeks in the same course would have reported, after the first 4 weeks, 3/40 outcomes in 4/40 weeks, or 7.5%/10% which is 75%. If that student continues at that exact pace, by the 40 weeks he/she would have mastered 30 outcomes, achieving a Final grade of 30 mastered / 40 total outcomes, or 75%.