Friday, May 9, 2014

An open letter to the CBE

Regarding the new assessment and reporting for 2014-2015

I am incredibly unhappy that the CBE is taking away a useful tool to parents, in the form of the traditional practices of reporting grades. The new assessment is too broad and does little to ensure that our children learn to show an appreciation for work ethic and consequence. Assessment for learning? In what career is a person assessed before they start their job? Certainly, when a person is first hired they are assessed to ensure that they meet the requirements for the job, but how does one advance once they obtain employment? They are assessed based on their performance and should their performance lack, they have a consequence; either they remain in their current position or they are fired.

Assessment for learning does not teach our children to perform at their best; there is no tool to reward a child who works their hardest and no consequence for a child who does very little and, more importantly, no way for parents to ensure that our children are performing as expected. A grading system that is essentially four, twenty-five percent blocks is far to broad to get an accurate representation of the strengths and weaknesses of our children; both are equally important to parents. We want to know the areas in which our children excel and the areas that require remediation.

For example: I have a child who is not only gifted, but also has ADHD. Based on his intellect, his 85%, is the average child's 65%. Due to his ADHD, however, he often misses handing in assignments and does poorly on tests due to a lack of attention and focus in class. Based on the current model of grading, I can easily monitor his grades to ensure that he stays on task and his grades reflect his "average" of 85%. If his percentages start slipping, I can evaluate his homework practices and study regimens to ensure that he is learning to develop a good work ethic for the future. Under the new assessment, his "average"should be a 4, but there is no way for me to ensure that his grade remains at his average. He could easily slip to a 3 or even lower before I could step in to ensure that he stays focused and on task. I also worry about how this grading system will effect his transition to high school. If we consider that his average should be 85% and he struggles to maintain a 4 under the new system, does that mean he will suddenly become a student who's average is now 75%? Who will take responsibility for creating a generation of students who could have been A+ students, but who are now low B students? Will the CBE?

Let's use another example of how the current grading practices benefit students. How about a student who is an average student of 65%; a nice solid C student, but one who works exceptionally hard. Under the current system, that student can see their hard work pay off in the form of an increasing percentage. Under the new assessment, where is the reward? That student can work at their most diligent and still only ever achieve a 3. So why work hard?

Instead of rewarding children for their hard work, the new assessment is stifling their ability to excel and stunting their achievements. The CBE is removing parents' ability to ensure that our children work to their potential, at a time in their development when we, as parents, have the greatest impact. How much impact will we have when our sixteen-year-old, high school students emerge from this new assessment model into mediocrity; created by the CBE.


A concerned parent. 

For more information on the new assessment and reporting please go to the CBE website, HERE. The CBE is removing the existing grading system of percentages and replacing it with the numbers 1-4 (SR, support required; EM, emerging strengths; EV, evident strengths and EX, exemplary strengths). They are also moving away from assessment OF learning to assessment FOR learning (ie. what should we teach next?).