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Dec 2nd, 2016
As we approach the end of the first semester of the school year and the excitement of Christmas is upon us, I would like to take this opportunity to make you aware of our ‘next big move’ as a staff.
Annunciation is a vibrant, evolving community and that extends to all parts of our great school. As we carry out our school’s vision, we are guided by our mission and our strategic plan. At the heart of our work is the desire to fulfill the Strategic Plan’s first objective to “Position Annunciation as a Catholic leader, educating the whole child.” Central to this goal is our continued implementation of the IB framework. The IB is guiding our development of “how” we teach, while “what” we teach is based on standards. While much of what we teach is the same, the way that we go about teaching it needs to change and match the way our students learn today. This process involves evaluating and reflection on all aspects of our school. IB becomes the framework for that evolution.
Essential to the philosophy of IB learning is an adherence to the IB ‘Program of Inquiry’. This is where we as educators ask: 1) What do the students NEED to know? 2) HOW will they learn it? and 3) How will we KNOW they know it? This program guides the shift in teaching, learning and assessment of students. The process comes in layers and as we put this new way of teaching into practice it has prompted us to critically examine the curriculum.
In the process of reviewing the curriculum across kindergarten through eighth grade, we began with the student’s perspective. What does a student learn in Science in kindergarten? How many times is that repeated before graduation? As we dug deeper into the curriculum, we began to see how our reporting of student progress needed to evolve.
At Annunciation, we use report cards to communicate student progress in several different academic areas. The shape that the assessment takes needs to be consistent across the grades in order to be a true tool. While we reviewed curriculum through the student’s lens, we began our retooling of report cards from the viewpoint of parents. Our aim is to rework this reporting tool to better indicate where a student is on the continuum of mastery of a particular skill or concept. The ultimate goal is to help all students consistently meet the high expectations and rigor of our curriculum.
Expect to see some changes to the way progress is reported at the end of this current semester, especially in Kindergarten through 5th grades. This is just the beginning of the undertaking. We needed to get started and we began by creating a consistent template for our report cards based on the standards we teach. While our end goal will be to transition to true standards-based grading and assessment, we are only at the very beginning.
For now, report cards for elementary will indicate the standards and expectations for each grade as well as indicate where students are in meeting expectations. For student in grades K-3, we will use a 3-2-1 scale. For students who exceed or excel, comments may be added. In addition, MAP scores will be added at the end of the year to indicate overall achievement. For grades 4-8, we will continue to use letter grades for now.
In the end, having reports linked to standards that match the teaching from standards will provide several improvements for students, teachers and parents. The report cards will:
- be better aligned
- be more consistent with precise feedback
- encourage students to take a more active role
- ensure student mastery
Because this will be a process over time, we will continue to inform you as we research, learn, and adjust our progress reports to match our teaching. We are excited to take the first steps in this process. I am grateful to the teachers and staff for being “risk-takers” and for the extra hours of collaborative work that people provided. We are on the right track and look forward to the end result.
As always, if you have questions, feel free to contact me. Change can be disorienting but be assured that many hours of examination have been dedicated and continue to be dedicated to getting this ‘right’.