As you are aware, Vernon Community School has been focused on non-judmental, descriptive feedback as their primary assessment tool – assisting in creating an environment which has a growth mindset.
We have found (as research has also concluded) that letter grades can be de-motivating (in a variety of ways – see this link for more information: http://digitalcollection.gov.mb.ca/awweb/pdfopener?smd=1&did=12503&md=1) and that rich, descriptive language supports students to understand where they are at and where they need to develop/grow next.
Our growth continuum frameworks have been very useful for self, peer and teacher feedback particularly in collboration with Freshgrade. Some districts in B.C. are moving away from letter grades in the intermediate and middle school years (eg., Surrey) and towards similar assessment structures as V.C.S. is creating. The Ministry is supporting our efforts by allowing us to apply for an exemption to letter grades next year. (This year we have had to take our data in all subject areas and assign letter grades to our students to meet present Ministry reporting orders. These marks are not accessible for students online however.)
Murray, Ryan, Kalin and I spent last week ensuring that all VCS students received full Ministry credit for 8 courses:
Language Arts 7 OR English 8/9
Social Studies 7/8/9
Fine Arts 7/8/9
Applied Arts 7/8/9
Health and Careers 7 OR Planning 8/9
Once again our examinations of learning provided a context for rich, thoughtful, reflective thinking about oneself and others – about growth observed and need for growth. We will be sending each family an anecdotal report on their child which provides a description of where your child is at wholistically – as a learner – based upon the examination. At VCS we believe that deep root growth (core competencies) leads to the capacity to deeply understand content (language, math, social studies, science, etc.) as well as make meaning of it – to enhance their life as well as build their intellectual strength to pursue whatever vocational/professional path they choose in the future.
The descriptive reports will be sent to you in the next few days. They are still in process. You will continue to have access to Freshgrade. Please encourage your child to use it as a journaling tool over the summer break !
Thank you for co-creating VCS with us – including assessment and reporting. It’s been quite a challenging AND fruitful year – the goal of a growth mindset after all.