Purposes & Principles of Assessment

Assessment practices as Roberto Clemente Community Academy (RCCA) are intended not only to measure learning, but also to facilitate it. To that end, a variety of formative and summative assessments are used to inform teachers about student progress toward objectives. As part of an ongoing data cycle in each classroom, assessment results are used to reflect upon past practice and inform future planning, as well as to monitor school-wide instructional initiatives and interventions.

Assessment for Learning – Formative Assessment

Effective curriculum plans promote frequent formative assessment, with multiple avenues for results to impact teaching and learning. RCCA promotes the following practices:

  • Assessing prior knowledge and skill levels when embarking upon a unit of study
  • Providing students with immediate constructive feedback, and multiple opportunities to reflect, practice, and attempt improvement
  • Facilitating self- and peer-assessment, to foster student ownership of learning and increase understanding of assessment criteria
  • Using results to differentiate, reteach, and intervene according to the specific needs of individuals and groups of students
  • Planning future units and lessons informed by current assessment results

Assessment of Learning – Summative Assessment

Near the end of a unit or sequence of learning experiences, students will be assessed in order to determine their final level of mastery. To ensure fair evaluation for all students, RCCA assesses in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • Providing multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning
  • Using a variety of assessment formats, set in diverse contexts, to accommodate the spectrum of learning styles and types of intelligence in our student body
  • Avoiding cultural bias, and reflecting international-mindedness when possible
  • Establishing rigorous objectives for assessment, aligned with the IB assessment criteria and merging content, skills, and real-world contexts
  • Require synthesis and application of learning, with an emphasis on higher-order thinking skills rather than content recall

Middle Years Programme Assessment Practices

Due to district and state requirements, RCCA teachers assess a range of standards. These include the Common Core State Standards, College Readiness Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards, in addition to the IB Assessment Criteria. In order to avoid over-testing and make the assessment data as relevant and meaningful as possible, RCCA’s Instructional Leadership Team (with the input of subject area teachers) has established an assessment calendar and description of specific assessment types. Through this structured approach, teachers gain information on the level of mastery of all of these standards without over-assessing their students, and also meet specific district requirements for testing.

In addition, teachers include frequent formative assessment of these standards and criteria in their curricula. The timing and format of formative assessment is more flexible, and left primarily to the discretion of each individual teacher. As they assess, teachers record information on levels of student achievement in individual categories within the Gradebook online program, which can then be used to identify trends and track progress over time, allowing them to adjust instruction according to the needs of their students as well as to track performance for awarding final IB grades.

In alignment with the assessment practices described in “MYP: Principles into Practice” (International Baccalaureate Organization, August 2008), formative and summative assessments aligned with IB Assessment Criteria will:

  • Address at least one MYP objective, and be paired with a corresponding task-specific rubric
  • Be paired with student-friendly rubrics, to ensure student understanding of the expectations
  • Allow for modifications for students with exceptional needs, or those learning in a language other than mother tongue, without lowering standards
  • Be structured so that students can access all levels of achievement for each IB criterion assessed
  • Be graded by teachers who have internally standardized their marking practices

Diploma Programme Assessment Practices

Per Diploma Programme guidelines, the final summative assessment for each course is conducted through high-stakes, formal assessment that contributes directly to students’ final qualification level. Internal and external summative assessments will be administered per the model and practices outlined in each subject guide. External assessments are administered in May for Year 2 Diploma Programme students, and are marked by IB examiners outside of the school.

In order to monitor and support student progress toward achieving the criteria outlined by these external assessments, teacher structure and implement a series of formative assessments throughout the two years of each course. The expectations and structure for some internal assessments are outlined in each subject guide. These assessments allow for students to show their range in skill and ability outside of a traditional examination setting, and may include: oral examinations (Group 1 and Group 2), practicum labs (Group 4), portfolio projects (Group 5), performances (Group 6), TOK presentations, etc. Teachers create additional formative assessments for more frequent and flexible monitoring of student performance. These are criterion-related and based upon the same objectives as the formal summative exams, and influenced by the same philosophy and practices as assessment in the MYP. In some cases, the assessment formats mimic those used in MYP classes, as many of the same district and state requirements apply to the assessment of Diploma Programme students. In all cases, formative assessments are expected to support the curricular and philosophical goals of the DP and incorporate a range of task types. Students should be engaged in self-evaluation, peer evaluation, and analysis of assessment descriptors in order to construct an understanding of what constitutes high performance.

Career Programme Assessment Practices

Abiding by district and state requirements in CTE (Career & Technical Education) coursework, students will be formatively and summatively assessed based on specific CTE requirements and standards prescribed by the district, and tailored to fit individual student and school needs by the CTE teacher. Students are assessed for mastery of the content in the career field in which they are studying (Culinary Arts, Broadcast Technology, or Allied Health), and are provided multiple opportunities in a variety of ways to display thorough understanding and application of the hard and soft skills within their field of study.

Service Learning: Throughout the two-year career programme experience, students will document their work by providing artifacts, photos, invoices and/or contacts made, which will be used during monthly advisor meetings. Upon completion of the IBCP, students will create a final reflection where they take their formal plan and assess how each part aligned to the intended outcome, and they will evaluate their individual growth within their field of work and their development and understanding of general workplace skills. Reflections and student portfolios will be reviewed by the service learning coordinator and the student advisor to determine satisfactory completion of the service learning programme.

Language Development: Language development will be monitored by the ATL teacher, the DP Group 2 language teacher, and IBCP Coordinator Designate. A student’s language portfolio will be formatively assessed to ensure student language acquisition is valid, reliable, consistent, authentic, fair, and differentiated based on individual student developmental needs. Satisfactory completion of the language development component will be reported to the IB upon completion of the CP curriculum.

Reflective Project: The school internally assesses all students’ reflective projects using the assessment criteria set by the IB.

Grading & Reporting Practices

We continuously revisit our grading philosophy, seeking a methodology that most appropriately represents and supports student learning. Our specific recommendations to teachers for grading may change annually, based on lessons learned the preceding year, but the consistent philosophical underpinnings of our grading practices include:

  • Valuing both improvement and mastery
  • Providing opportunities for students to revise low-scoring work, or complete missing tasks
  • Avoiding the use of zeroes as a “punishment” for missing work
  • Weighting performance at the end of a marking period (or whatever is deemed the most accurate demonstration of student performance) more heavily than initial performance
  • Using only criterion-related assessment, and not norm-referenced assessment
  • Requiring students to apply and analyze knowledge, not just recall it

 

As an IB World School, our grading system has changed compared to previous years. Currently, we are utilizing 7 categories in IMPACT Gradebook.

WeightTitleDescription
 

 

 

40%

 

 

CCSS and CRS formatives

The grades in this section should include any assessments that used the CCSS rubric or that target CCSS standards in reading, writing, and/or math.  When the CCSS rubric is used, grades should be converted from the 0-8 scale to the 100-point scale per the chart below.  “Improvement grades” on CRS and CCSS would be incorporated here, if they are being used.

If a student does not complete an assignment in this category, a 50 should be put into gradebook AND multiple opportunities must be available for students to complete the assignment.

 

 

40%

 

 

IB Formative

The grades in this section should include any formative assessments of IB criteria.  IB rubrics should be used frequently, but are not required in all instances.  When rubrics are used, IB grades should be converted to the 100-point scale per the chart below.

If a student does not complete an assignment in this category, a 50 should be put into gradebook AND multiple opportunities must be available for students to complete the assignment.

 

 

20%

 

Summatives (all standards)

This category is for summative assessments of any type – CRS and CCSS unit exams, and final judgments on IB summative tasks.  Rubric scores need to be converted to the 100-point scale per the chart below.

If a student did not take the summative, this must be put in as excused AND multiple opportunities must be available for students to complete the summative.  For an IB summative, the best judgment based on process work or rough drafts can be entered if needed due to extenuating circumstances.

 

Have students begin homework in class, so that they can ask questions about the task expectations or any specific componentsHomework is expected in all classes, although the length and frequency is not prescribed. As we move forward with IB implementation, we will calibrate within grade-level teams to ensure that our expectations of students are consistent and balanced, and that major projects or other homework-heavy curriculum components are spaced appropriately throughout the grading period. For teachers struggling with low homework completion rates, we recommend the following practices:

  • Ensure that homework assignments are appropriately rigorous for an unsupervised activity – complex enough to cognitively engage students, but still within the zone of proximal learning
  • Make use of homework assignments in class the next day, to emphasize their value and the importance of completing them on time
  • Give prompt feedback to students on their performance
  • Communicate with families regularly regarding student completion of homework
  • Determine the root cause of any consistent failure to complete homework (i.e. student employment after school, insufficient study space at home) so that appropriate, targeted interventions can be implemented to support the student

Recording and Reporting of Grades

Per district requirements, teachers enter grades into IMPACT Gradebook, which can be accessed online by school personnel, students, and parents. All grades aligned with IB Assessment Criteria are first scored with the IB rubrics, then converted to a 100-point scale so that they are compatible with Gradebook. Teachers are encouraged to post updated grades weekly in or near their classrooms (coded by ID number to maintain privacy) and to engage students in reflecting on their current grade and any next steps. RCCA teachers are also expected to enter at least 2 grades weekly, so that students get real-time feedback on their progress. Since Gradebook generates traditional letter grade-based report cards, RCCA supplements the reporting process with “IB Report Cards” each semester to inform students and parents about progress made on the IB objectives in each subject area. Final IB grades are determined using the grade boundaries provided in the MYP Coordinator’s Handbook.

Consideration for Students with Exceptional Needs

In accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) and the Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services (ODLSS) of Chicago Public Schools, we strive to provide quality education for all learners, implementing instructional supports and services within each student’s least restrictive environment. Each student with exceptional needs has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that outlines the modifications and accommodations that student requires in order to access the curriculum successfully. RCCA teachers implement these accommodations and modifications in both learning activities and assessments, supported and monitored by the student’s individual provider. Special provisions for assessment methods and grading scales may be included, and will be strictly followed to ensure equitable assessment of all students. Student IEPs are revisited annually to review the necessity and effectiveness of the prescribed interventions, and make any necessary changes. Additionally, IEPs can be altered more frequently as circumstances or the weight of evidence dictates.

 Consideration for Students Learning in a Language Other than Mother Tongue

Special considerations are taken into account for students learning in a language other than mother tongue. Translation and use of mother tongue may be appropriate at times, but should not replace the expectation that students acquire basic interpersonal communicative skills and some cognitive academic language proficiency. Teachers must carefully consider the abilities and needs of each individual student to determine the appropriate balance of scaffolding and high expectations to create the zone of proximal learning. They must also acknowledge and take into consideration that students learning in a language other than mother tongue will acquire cognitive academic language at different rates, and ensure that assessment for conceptual understanding is not reliant on full acquisition of such vocabulary. Generally, teachers should utilize language mistakes – both oral and written – as opportunities for students to critically examine differences in the structure of their mother tongue and the language of instruction, rather than simply penalizing them for such errors.

Implementation, Evaluation & Review of the Assessment Policy

This Assessment Policy is reviewed by the Instructional Leadership Team (comprised of IB coordinator-designates, school administrators, and teacher leaders) on an annual basis. While the philosophical basis for our assessment policy will not change, we expect to pilot improved methods as we become more familiar with IB and as district or state requirements change. Evidence collected throughout the school year is used to evaluate the effectiveness of the policy and to inform any desired changes to practice before the next school year begins.

The review process is led by the IB Coordinator-Designates, beginning in early summer. Academic department chairs and grade-level leads seek input from their teams, provide evidence regarding the assessment practices in their subject areas, and advise the direction of any policy changes. Teacher leaders and IB coordinator-designates are also responsible for communicating changes back to the full faculty and supporting teachers in implementing the policy with fidelity. This includes professional development, norming and calibration of scoring, student work protocols and monitoring of grading practices through collaborative teacher meetings, as well as providing individualized support.

Newly-hired teachers are supported in understanding and implementing this assessment policy in multiple ways. First, they receive in-service training during the summer, to gain a fundamental understanding of assessment practices before the school year begins. They participate in additional norming activities and discussions in department and grade-level meetings. In addition, the IB coordinator-designates serve as instructional coaches who support developing teachers, with a partial focus on assessment practices, grading and feedback.