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Frequently Asked Questions

How has reporting students’ learning changed?

In the 2019-2020 school year, the Vancouver School District began changing how we let parents and students know about their children’s learning.

During that school year, some students had new report cards as we transitioned to the new format. They are realigned to BC’s redesigned curriculum. They help give parents and students a comprehensive picture of how they are doing at school and how their learning can be supported.

This update in assessing and reporting students’ learning is now called Communicating Student Learning (CSL). It provides regular and ongoing information sharing that allows both learners and parents to gauge where children are in their learning, what they are working toward, and the ways in which that learning is developing and can be supported.

Why has assessment and reporting changed?

BC’s significant change in its educational curriculum has taken place to prepare students with the necessary skills for their future. Children need to learn adaptive skills, especially to be prepared for rapidly changing technology in years to come.

The redesigned curriculum allows for new and better ways to assess and evaluate each student's progress, and to communicate that important information to parents. This is where the phrase ‘Communicating Student Learning’ (CSL) is introduced.

The redesigned curriculum requires an aligned approach to assessment and reporting. This update on assessment and reporting practices and structures:

  • is learning focused 
  • promotes and advances learning (rather than measuring learning) 
  • has a continuous progress approach: a way to allow further and continuous learning

What is Communicating Student Learning (CSL)?

Communicating Student Learning (CSL) provides regular and ongoing information sharing that allows both learners and parents to gauge where the student is in their learning, what they are working towards, and the ways in which that learning can be supported. It focuses on strength-based assessment of a child’s learning. This gives a full picture of how a student is doing at school.

It allows parents to understand how their child’s learning is developing. This continuous window into their child's progress encourages them to take an active part by working closely with teachers to help ensure their child's progress.

The process also helps guide and empower students to reflect on their learning and set future goals.

What is different?

Parents will see changes in how they receive information on their child’s learning. Strengths-based reporting using a proficiency scale is now used. This assessment of a student’s learning moves towards more qualitative, standards-based information. This means that letter grades in grades 4-7 are replaced with reporting student achievement for subject areas on a proficiency scale.

This approach focuses on giving information that helps progress learning rather than on measuring it. It helps students and parents answer three questions about their learning:

  • Where is the student now? 
  •  Where are they going? 
  •  How do they get there?

This reporting practice gives a full picture of how students are doing at school and how their learning is developing. It is part of an ongoing process of communicating to parents using strengths-based language about their child’s learning. This includes specific reference to the student’s strengths, their areas for growth, and a plan for further support - with the goal of advancing student learning.

As a result, students are provided with meaningful information and feedback about their learning, so that they can monitor their progress towards their learning goals. Parents are involved as partners in a dialogue about their child’s progress, and the best ways to support and improve learning.

What do report cards look like?

For kindergarten to Grade 7, the new report card format includes:

  • Descriptive written comments addressing:
    • Student’s Learning Strengths
      In this section, teachers discuss areas where the student is demonstrating learning goals successfully and gives examples of how they are showing their learning. It is a personalized account of the successes the student is demonstrating at this point in the year. This portion of the written report may include comments about the child’s strengths in terms of work habits, effort, participation, and behaviour in addition to some subject based examples.
    • Areas for Growth
      In this section, teachers identify some areas for further growth and development and for which the teacher will be providing support and guidance to the child. It is not expected that the child be meeting all expectations at this point in the school year; the areas for growth discussed in the child’s written report will serve as learning goals for the child’s journey at their grade level between now and the end of the school year.
    • Ways to Support Learning
      In this section, teachers list some specific ways that teachers and families can work together at school and at home to support the student. It is not expected that the parent teach the child the curriculum at home in order to be successful with growth and development. This learning will occur within the framework of the classroom, and support is expected at home only when communicated directly to the parent by the teacher.
  • A student proficiency scale for each subject area (in relation to grade level expectations):
    • BEGINNING to acquire knowledge, skills, strategies and processes
    • DEVELOPING the ability to apply knowledge, skills, strategies and processes
    • APPLYING knowledge, skills, strategies and processes consistently
    • EXTENDING knowledge, skills, strategies and processes creatively and strategically.

There is no correlation between letter grade and proficiency scale. The proficiency scale shows where the student is presently at and provides details about what they can do to progress.

When are these changes taking place?

This transition was phased-in in the 2019-2020 school year. 

For this 2020-2021 school year, all elementary school teachers will use the updated strengths-based reporting using a proficiency scale.

When will my child bring these elementary report cards home?

Report cards are sent home at the end of January (mid-year) and June (end-of-year).

Parents will also receive at least three more communications about their child’s learning throughout the school year. These can take the format of parent/teacher/student conferences, online platforms (apps, websites), electronic portfolio reviews, parent/teacher meetings, reflections on student work, telephone conversations, interim written reports, or demonstrations of learning.

How often will I hear from my child’s teacher?

For elementary grades (kindergarten to Grade 7), there are five (minimum) required points of contact with parents throughout the year: two written reports (January and June), and three informal communications (i.e. conferences, meetings, portfolios, online forums/apps).

The two formal written reports are:

  • A Progress Report that will be sent home to families by the end of January
    • It will indicate where the child is in relation to the age/grade expectations using written comments describing the student’s strengths, areas for improvement, goals and support plan as well as proficiency scale indicators for each subject area.
  • A Summative Report that will be sent home to families by the end of June
    • It will indicate where the child is in relation to the age/grade expectations using written comments, proficiency scale indicators for each subject area, and a student self-assessment of the Core Competencies (Communication, Thinking, and Personal and Social)

A minimum of three ongoing communication with families (timing at the teacher’s discretion):

  • These ongoing communications can occur in different ways, such as three-way (student, parent, teacher) conferences, electronic portfolio reviews, parent/teacher meetings, reflections on student work, online platforms, telephone conversations, interim written reports, or demonstrations of learning. 

Will reporting change for secondary students? 

We are working towards similar changes for secondary students for the 2020/2021 school year.

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