Communicating Student Learning

Our Mission

Northbrook School, nurturing and family oriented, inspires each student to achieve personal excellence.  We ensure diverse learning opportunities to foster growth and responsible citizenship with the active involvement of the community.

Northbrook School Communication Plan / Our Purpose:

Assessment, evaluation and the communication of information about student learning are essential components of the educational process.  The purpose of the Northbrook School Plan for Communicating Student Learning is to explain how we intend to communicate with parents / guardians regarding these expectations for students and about your childís progress in relation to these expectations. 

We believe that a studentís success depends on the collaborative efforts of all those involved in the childís education.  Students, teachers, and parents / guardians can all work effectively together when they have a shared understanding of learning expectations and outcomes, gained through effective communication between the home and school.

Context/Background:

Assessment and evaluation of student learning at Northbrook School follows the guidelines established by the Department of Education, and the Halifax Regional School Board.   The basis for the assessment and evaluation of student learning will be the expected learning outcomes established by the Nova Scotia Department of Education.  The Learning Outcomes Framework forms the basis for the P-12 school program in Nova Scotia. 

The Principles of Learning / How children learn:   

Essential Graduation Learnings  (EGLís) / What children learn:

The EGLís are statements describing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes, expected of all students who graduate from high school, and are meant to show the childís total educational experience.

The Department of Education publishes curriculum guides that describe outcomes, or what students are expected to know and be able to do upon completion of study in a particular curriculum area.   Teachers use the curriculum guides in planning, delivering and assessing the outcomes for the learning activities they set up for the whole class, for groups of children and for individuals.

Teachers are aware of the similarities and differences among children and work to ensure that all children are challenged at the appropriate level and therefore experience meaningful success.  Knowing where children are in relation to the expected learning outcomes is essential to planning for success.

There are a number of ways parents/guardians can become more knowledgeable about outcomes.  These include, but are not limited to:

--observing your childís school work
--monitoring homework
--asking your child about school
--asking your childís teacher about curriculum
--attending  Curriculum Night and information sessions at the school
--reading the curriculum information provided by the School
--visiting the Nova Scotia Department of Education website  

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  Assessment:

We use the word assessment to mean all the ways teachers gather information about what students are learning and how they are learning.   Teachers use a variety of methods because each method provides a certain kind of information Ė valuable in some respects and limited in others.  Teachers use a variety of methods of assessment to give students multiple opportunities to demonstrate what they can do and what they know.  Using multiple and varied opportunities to collect information about student achievement is called Balanced Assessment.  The combination of information derived from different sources allows teachers to come to conclusions with greater confidence in their validity. 

Assessment tools (or methods of gathering information about student learning) range from observing students in the classroom, to gathering collections of their products, to requiring them to perform certain tasks with limited supports and within time constraints.  Teachers do not necessarily use all of the methods for assessment with each student, but in some combination to ensure a balanced assessment.  Your childís teacher would be pleased to discuss the variety of ways in which he or she assesses student learning.  These include, but are not limited to:

Work Samples - collected and dated daily assignments.

Models - two or three dimensional representation or construction.

Journals - informal writing shared among students and teachers.

Reports / Projects / Presentations - formal assignments which extend over a period of time, and which demonstrate student understanding of a concept or topic.

Performances - skits, puppet shows, public speaking, debates, plays, role-playing, singing and dance, instrumental music.

Tests / Quizzes - a time limited written or oral response to questions on a specific concept.

Peer and Self Evaluation - Students assessing their own and other's work using clear guidelines.

Observation / Anecdotal Records / Checklists - specific methods that support continuous gathering of information on student learning.

Portfolios - a collection of student/teacher selected work that portrays a student's effort, progress, and achievement over a period of time.

Student Lead Conferences - student presentation of their learning to parents / guardians.

Goal Setting - collaborative process among students, teachers and parents/guardians to establish goals the child will work towards over a specified period of time.

Rubrics - identifies and describes the criteria used to assess student performance

Observation Survey - structured assessment activities giving evidence of a child's reading ability.

Questioning - the use of question and answer strategies in various settings to determine what a child knows.

Conferencing - discussion between student and teacher regarding student accomplishments.

Evaluation:

The information we gather on student learning has several uses.  The most immediate use is to provide direction to the teacherís daily teaching plan.  We also use this information to evaluate student learning. 

We use the word evaluation to mean the processes of analyzing, weighing and balancing, summarizing information and making judgments based on that information.  As in their planning, teachers use the learning outcomes framework in making decisions about the learning achievements of individual children.  Students are evaluated in relation to the expected learning outcomes for that grade level.  Evaluation requires teachers to use a high level of professional judgment.  

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Information Communication:

Parents/guardians will be informed of student learning in a variety of ways, some on a school wide basis and others particular to individual classes and teachers.  If at any time, the standard forms for communicating are inappropriate for you, please contact the school and we will assist you in better understanding your childís achievement.  (This could mean bringing in an interpreter, or someone who can sign or an advocate for the parent, etc.) 

The variety of ways of general communication may include, but are not limited to:

- Curriculum sessions

- Open houses

- Home/school communication:  journals, notebooks used as a two-way communication vehicle, e-mail, phone calls, conferences, joint goal setting,

- Monthly school and/or class newsletters, calendars

- Work samples:  published stories, journals, projects, investigations, displays, audio-visual recordings, writing folders, portfolios

- Reading activities:  reading at home programs, reading logs

- Homework:  regular assignments, projects, interactive activities for students / parents / guardians

- Special events:  performances, concerts, contests, plays, visits

- Use of school / class web pages

Tools for Communication / Progress reports:

The school year is organized into two terms and each term concludes with a progress report written about your childís learning.  The first term ends in January and the second one ends in June.

The Halifax Regional School Board has developed an Elementary Progress Report for all elementary schools.  This Progress Report uses descriptive commentary and focuses on the individual studentís progress in relation to the expected learning outcomes.  The Progress Report does not use letters or numerical grades, not does it compare or contrast one student with others in the class.

Parents / guardians should be aware that it is our practice to alert parents /guardians to our concerns about the educational progress of a child.  We believe that early identification of problems and timely intervention is the most effective approach and that the parents / guardians play an important part in supporting the child in addressing identified needs.

Tools for Communication / Conferences:

There are two scheduled parent /guardian /teacher conferences each year; one is in the Fall and the other in the Spring.  While it is assumed that parents /guardians will attend planned conferencing times, we understand that scheduling conflicts do occur.  Parents are encouraged to make an appointment with the teacher at another time to discuss their childís progress.  The same step applies if the parent or teacher feels further conferencing time is necessary.  

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Communication Protocol for Concerns:

There may be times when a parent /guardian has a concern about some aspect of the curriculum or a concern regarding the progress of his / her child.  Parents / guardians should first raise their concerns with the classroom teacher.  The teacher will respond within a reasonable time.  Please remember that teachers are not able to meet on an impromptu basis, nor are they able to discuss a studentís program or progress during instructional time, which includes supervision duty as well as time spent meeting, greeting and dismissing students. 

If the teacher and /or the parents /guardians feel that the participation of the principal would help clarify any concerns, the principal will meet with all involved, separately or together as seems appropriate. 

In all cases, it is anticipated that the parties involved will work together in the spirit of mutual respect to resolve any issues requiring clarification, while placing as the first priority the best interests of the child.

Any conferencing should relate to your child and your situation only; all other information is confidential.

Children Requiring Extra Support and / or Students with Special Needs:

We believe early identification of student learning concerns and timely interventions provide the most effective approach in meeting the needs of students.  While regular adaptations are a normal part of daily classroom routines, parents will be informed before significant interventions or extra support takes place.

Northbrook School has an established process for the identification, assessment and program planning for students with special needs.  Classroom teachers, resource teachers and parents/guardians may initiate and / or assist in identifying students with special needs or students who require extra support.  Parents are consulted and written permission is required for any formal individual assessment and parents are informed of the test results when the results become available.

In accordance with the Nova Scotia Special Education Policy, when a student is identified as having special needs, a referral is made to the school program planning team which will begin the process of adapting programs and /or developing an Individual Program Plan.  The IPP will provide the student with a specific plan to meet his / her appropriate learning outcomes. The Program Planning Team consists of the principal, resource teacher, classroom and one other teacher, as well as the childís parents. 

Review of the School Plan:

The Northbrook School Communication Plan will be reviewed every second year and this review will take place in conjunction with the updating of the School Improvement Plan.

Further Information:

Relevant provincial curriculum documents may be viewed at the school or accessed through the government websites:  http://doc-depot.ednet.ns.ca   or  http://apef-fepa.org 

The Halifax Regional School Board policy on Student Assessment and Evaluation can be accessed by visiting the Boardís website: www.hrsb.ns.ca and selecting the Document Depot site.  

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Student Learning Communication Plan for 2001/2002:

September 27            -Curriculum Presentation

November 5              -Interim Reports

November 7              -Parent Visitation from 2-4 and 5-8 pm

January 31                 -Student Assessment and Evaluation Day (No Classes)

February 12               -First Term Progress Reports are sent home

February 28               -Curriculum Presentation

April 18                     -Parent Visitation from 2-4 and 5-8 pm

June 21                     -Student Assessment and Evaluation Day (No classes)

June 27                     -Student Assessment and Evaluation Day (No classes)

June 28                     -Final term Progress Reports are sent home

 

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