Thinking about Reporting

This year I was involved in shifting my school's reporting process in grades 6 to 8 from a percentage based system to the IB MYP system which assigns a score of 1-7 based on progress measured against subject specific criterion. It's been quite a journey and has included numerous parent information sessions, a complete rethink of our academic award system, and quite a bit of cognitive dissonance for all involved. Still, by the time we got to Term 3 I thought I had everything well in hand, until it came time to assign a final grade. That was when I realised how ingrained old habits are, and that I was still unknowingly operating on an old assumption.

Prior to shifting our reporting system we would assign a grade for each term, and each student's final grade was based on a percentage of each term's grade, plus exam grades. In effect, we took little bits of learning and added them together, and assumed that adequately reflected the sum total of the learning over the course of the year. The IB MYP reporting system is meant to provide an ongoing snapshot of a student's learning as they go through the year, with the final snapshot being the most current and relevant snapshot. I have tried to summarize the difference between these two approaches in the graphic below.

I thought I was on board with this shift in reporting until I came to the final grade and discovered that I hadn't really been assessing student's gains in learning skills over the course of the year; I was still stuck in the 3 term paradigm. Upon reflection a lot of this had to do with content expectations. We teach different things each term, and as long as my assessment focuses on student ability to absorb the content taught each term, I am going to be stuck reporting on each term seperately.
My Aha moment this term has been the importance of assessing student's ability to 'do stuff' with content, not the content itself (something I have known for years, but clearly am still working on really internalising). This is in fact how the IB MYP Criteria are written, but sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the content and forget that our goal as teachers goes beyond the content. It is about teaching students the skills and habits of mind to 'do stuff' with content. And these are things that can be assessed, built on, and reported on over the course of a year; instead of in seperate chunks each term.


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