Beyond Grades: Embracing Assessment as a Catalyst for Growth at FIS

As we stride confidently into the fourth quarter here at the FIS, we find ourselves reflecting on the completion of our IB DP and MYP assessments for Grades 11 and 12. Soon, we’ll be knee-deep in year-end examinations, swiftly followed by a flurry of report writing, collation, and distribution to our supportive network of families.

Amid these exciting developments, our vigilant Curriculum Leadership Team has been diligently reviewing our Assessment Policy. While we acknowledge that further efforts are necessary, it’s worth noting that we’ve already embarked on a comprehensive journey of research and reflection. This process has been both thorough and exhaustive, carefully examining every facet of our curricular evolution, including the noteworthy introduction of the PYP in our primary school. Parents have the opportunity to share their feedback on the Assessment Policy with us during the next coffee morning session on May 30, starting at 8:45 in the FIS Conference Room.

As our learners and parents will soon be digesting reports and grades, I urge you to view these marks not merely as evaluations of your child’s intelligence, abilities, and potential, but rather as an indication of how well they’ve met the specified learning objectives of a course. Let us remember that acing an evaluation isn’t the core purpose of a class. The crux of assessment and reporting lies in providing constructive feedback and guidance to our students, assisting them in enhancing their academic endeavors.

In this information-rich era, honing the ability to process, apply, and scrutinize various types of data is of utmost importance. Additionally, nurturing interpersonal and intrapersonal skills is crucial. However, traditional reports can only do so much in encapsulating a student’s proficiency in these areas. I would advocate that our students and parents engage in discussions with teachers if they have any queries about the assessment and grades.

As previously emphasized, our approach to assessment goes beyond simply grading student work. It’s fundamentally about facilitating student learning. Our curriculum leaders, while reviewing our assessment policy, are cognizant that robust assessment should be sensitive to the individual learning styles, strengths, and needs of students, while also reflecting their accomplishments against predefined criteria over time.

In this evolved educational landscape, the focus has shifted from purely grade-oriented practices towards continuous feedback to enhance student learning. Grades, assigned during report time, serve as a synopsis of the learning demonstrated. We have categorized assessment into three roles:

  • For Learning: Offering students feedback on their work.
  • As Learning: Aiding students in setting and monitoring their learning objectives.
  • Of Learning: Evaluating and reporting progress in the form of grades or marks.

“Assessment for learning” directs the use of assessment data to determine the current state of a student’s learning, where they should aim to be, and the roadmap to get there. This information aids teachers in adjusting instruction and students in focusing their learning. Importantly, this assessment is for the explicit purpose of aiding student improvement while knowledge acquisition and skill development are underway. This includes dialogue between the teacher and the student, thus enabling students to become more cognizant of their strengths and areas needing improvement.

So, in the coming weeks, I hope our students view assessments not simply as an end-point summary of their learning, but more so as a formative process. In essence, we should regard assessment as an instrument for learning and a guide for continuous academic improvement.

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