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Assessment and Evaluation of Student Achievement

Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting in Ontario Schools, First Edition, Covering Grades 1 to 12, 2010 sets out the Ministry of Education’s assessment, evaluation, and reporting policy. The policy aims to maintain high standards, improve student learning, and benefit all students, parents, and teachers in elementary and secondary schools across the province. Successful implementation of this policy depends on the professional judgement of teachers at all levels as well as their high expectations of all students, and on their ability to work together and to build trust and confidence among parents and students.

Major aspects of assessment, evaluation, and reporting policy are summarized in the main “Assessment and Evaluation” section. The key tool for assessment and evaluation in mathematics – the achievement chart – is provided below.

Culturally Responsive and Relevant Assessment and Evaluation in Mathematics

Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy (CRRP) reflects and affirms students’ racial and social identities, languages, and family structures. It involves careful acknowledgement, respect, and understanding of the similarities and differences among students, and between students and teachers, in order to respond effectively to student thinking and promote student learning.

Engaging in assessment from a CRRP stance requires that teachers gain awareness of and interrogate their own beliefs about who a mathematical learner is and what they can achieve (see the questions for consideration provided below). In this process, teachers engage in continual self-reflection – and the critical analysis of various data – to understand and address the ways in which power and privilege affect the assessment and evaluation of student learning. Assessment from a CRRP stance starts with having a deep knowledge of every student and understanding of how they learn best. Teachers seek to build authentic, trusting relationships with students, and with their families and community, as they seek opportunities to build new understanding and support equitable outcomes for all students.

Assessment from a CRRP stance, by its nature, encompasses a wide variety of assessment approaches. It is designed to reflect, affirm, and enhance the multiple ways of knowing and being that students bring to the classroom while maintaining appropriate and high academic expectations for all students. The primary purpose of assessment is to improve student learning. Assessment for learning creates opportunities for teachers to intentionally learn about each student and their sociocultural and linguistic background in order to gather a variety of evidence about their learning in an anti-racist, anti-discriminatory environment, in a way that is reflective of and responsive to each student’s strengths, experiences, interests, and cultural ways of knowing. Ongoing descriptive feedback and responsive coaching for improvement is essential for improving student learning.

Teachers engage in assessment as learning by creating ongoing opportunities for all students to develop their capacity to be confident, independent, autonomous learners who set individual goals, monitor their own progress, determine next steps, and reflect on their thinking and learning in relation to learning goals and curriculum expectations. Teachers engage in culturally responsive and relevant practices by supporting students in the development of these skills by holding positive and affirming views of their students and of their ability to learn and achieve academic success. One way in which teachers differentiate assessment is by providing tasks that allow multiple entry points for all students to engage and that enable all students to access complex mathematics.

Assessment of learning is used by the teacher to summarize learning at a given point in time. This summary is used to make judgements about the quality of student learning on the basis of established criteria, to assign a value to represent that quality, and to support the communication of information about achievement to each student, parents, teachers, and others. Teachers engage in culturally responsive and relevant practices that honour and value the importance of student agency and voice in determining the variety of ways in which students can demonstrate their learning.

The evidence that is collected about student learning, including observations and conversations as well as student products, should reflect and affirm the student’s lived experiences within their school, home, and community, learning strengths, and mathematical knowledge. This process of triangulating evidence of student learning allows teachers to improve the accuracy of their understanding with respect to how each student is progressing in their learning. Assessment that is rooted in CRRP is an equitable, inclusive, and transparent process that values students as active participants in their learning.

When teachers engage in the process of examining their own biases regarding classroom assessment and evaluation practices, they might consider some of the following questions:

  • Are the tasks accessible to, and inclusive of, all learners? Do the tasks include appropriate and varied entry points for all students?
  • Do the tasks connect to students' prior learning and give them opportunities to be sense makers and to integrate their new learning? Do the selected tasks reflect students’ identities and lived experiences?
  • Do all students have equitable access to the tools they need to complete the tasks being set?
  • What opportunities can teachers build into their practice to offer students descriptive feedback to enhance learning? Are graded assessment tasks used in a way that complements the use of descriptive feedback for growth?
  • How can information be conveyed about students’ learning progress to students and parents in an ongoing and meaningful way?
  • What is the purpose of assigning and grading a specific task or activity? Are student choice and agency considered?
  • How do teacher biases influence decisions about what tasks or activities are chosen for assessment?

The Achievement Chart for Grade 9 Mathematics

The achievement chart identifies four categories of knowledge and skills and four levels of achievement in mathematics. (For important background, see “Content Standards and Performance Standards” in the main Assessment and Evaluation section.)

Knowledge and Understanding – Subject-specific content acquired in each grade (knowledge), and the comprehension of its meaning and significance (understanding)
Categories 50–59%
(Level 1)
60–69%
(Level 2)
70–79%
(Level 3)
80–100%
(Level 4)
  The student:
Knowledge of content (e.g., terminology, procedural skills, mathematical models)  demonstrates limited knowledge of content demonstrates some knowledge of content demonstrates considerable knowledge of content demonstrates thorough knowledge of content
Understanding of content (e.g., concepts, principles, mathematical structures and processes) demonstrates
limited understanding of content
demonstrates some understanding of content demonstrates considerable understanding of content demonstrates thorough understanding of content
Thinking – The use of critical and creative thinking skills and/or processes
Categories 50–59%
(Level 1)
60–69%
(Level 2)
70–79%
(Level 3)
80–100%
(Level 4)
  The student:
Use of planning skills (e.g., understanding the problem; generating ideas; formulating a plan of action; selecting strategies, models, and tools; making conjectures and hypotheses) uses planning skills with limited
effectiveness
uses planning skills with some effectiveness uses planning skills with considerable
effectiveness
uses planning skills with a high degree of effectiveness
Use of processing skills* (e.g., carrying out a plan: collecting data, questioning, testing, revising, modelling, solving, inferring, forming conclusions; looking back at a solution: evaluating reasonableness, making arguments in support of a solution, reasoning, justifying, proving, reflecting) uses processing skills with limited
effectiveness
uses processing skills with some
effectiveness
uses processing skills with considerable
effectiveness
uses processing skills with a high degree of effectiveness
Use of critical/creative thinking processes* (e.g., posing and solving problems, critiquing solutions, using mathematical reasoning, evaluating mathematical models, making inferences and testing conjectures and hypotheses)  uses critical/
creative thinking
processes with limited effectiveness
uses critical/
creative thinking
processes with some effectiveness
uses critical/
creative thinking
processes with considerable effectiveness
uses critical/
creative thinking
processes with a high degree of effectiveness
Communication – The conveying of meaning through various forms 
Categories 50–59%
(Level 1)
60–69%
(Level 2)
70–79%
(Level 3)
80–100%
(Level 4)
  The student:
Expression and organization of ideas and information in oral, visual, and/or written forms (e.g., pictorial, graphic, dynamic, numeric, algebraic forms; gestures and other non-verbal forms; models)  expresses and
organizes ideas and information
with limited effectiveness
expresses and
organizes ideas
and information
with some effectiveness
expresses and
organizes ideas and information
with considerable
effectiveness
expresses and organizes ideas and information
with a high degree of effectiveness
Communication for different audiences and purposes (e.g., to share mathematical thinking, to inform, to persuade, to share findings) in oral, visual, and/or written forms communicates for different audiences and purposes with limited effectiveness communicates for different audiences
and purposes with some effectiveness
communicates for different audiences and purposes with
considerable effectiveness
communicates for different audiences and purposes with a high degree of
effectiveness
Use of conventions, vocabulary, and terminology of the discipline in oral, visual, and/or written forms (e.g., terms, symbols, units, labels, structures) uses conventions,
vocabulary, and
terminology with
limited effectiveness
uses conventions,
vocabulary, and
terminology with
some effectiveness
uses conventions,
vocabulary, and
terminology with
considerable
effectiveness
uses conventions,
vocabulary, and
terminology with a high degree of
effectiveness
Application – The use of knowledge and skills to make connections within and between various contexts
Categories 50–59%
(Level 1)