The most important aim of assessment is to support and encourage student learning. To meet this aim, Thomas Jefferson Middle School (TJMS) teachers continually gather and analyze information on student progress and provide feedback to students to help them meet established learning goals. In addition to the feedback from teachers, students are involved in evaluating their own progress using self assessment and reflection.
Understanding Assessment in the TJMS
Role of Assessment
In addition to supporting and encouraging learning, assessment in the IBMYP is intended to:
- Inform, enhance and improve the teaching process by taking into account and differentiating for student learning styles, prior experience, current knowledge and interests.
- Provide opportunities for students to set learning goals and reflect on their own progress by ensuring they are fully aware of how they will be assessed at all stages of the learning process. Students thus become partners in the teaching and learning process.
- Promote the development of higher-order cognitive skills by providing rigorous final objectives for all students.
- Promote deep, conceptual learning by providing opportunities for and feedback on student inquiry into major disciplinary and cross-disciplinary ideas.
- Support the development of the whole child by developing and giving students feedback on “habits of mind” (approaches of learning skills) that are essential for lifelong learning.
- Promote staff development and collaborative inquiry into how to improve student performance.
As an IB school, TJMS adheres to the assessment policies of Arlington Public Schools (APS) while meeting the standards and required practices of assessment established by the IB organization.
Each subject/grade level team will establish the Virginia SOL standards of the Arlington Public Schools curricula, system-wide curricular area requirements, and the MYP objectives that will determine students’ course grades. Course standards, objectives and requirements will be provided to students and parents at the beginning of school in the various course syllabi.
Teams of teachers prepare units of study based on the Virginia Standards of Learning and MYP objectives. Teams further develop lesson objectives based on daily or weekly instructional goals.
A criterion-related system of continuous assessment
The system of assessment at TJMS is criterion-related. The set of IBMYP objectives for each subject group are directly related to the assessment criteria of that particular subject group. Each student’s level of achievement for the unit objectives is measured by pre-determined assessment criteria (standards).
The assessment system is also continuous. From year to year, from grades 6 through 8, students are assigned a variety of tasks that will be assessed using the same subject criteria. Continuous assessment of the same skills ensures students are prepared to meet the end of program IBMYP objectives for each subject.
A summative assessment is a culminating assessment task which gives information on students’ mastery of content, knowledge, and skills from a unit or set of units. Summative assessment is also called assessment of learning. Teachers utilize summative assessments to confirm that students have learned the skills and knowledge taught. IBMYP criteria are used to assess summative tasks.
Some examples of teacher-created summative assessments may include but are not limited to:
Chapter/unit tests including, short answer, and/or essay questions
Performance assessments Students demonstrate knowledge of dance steps in physical education.
Projects Students create a dictionary for essential math terms from the semester. In Social Studies, students create public service announcements to address a social issue studied in the unit.
Research presentations: Students research and present information about a specific topic.
Compositions Students compose an original song
Student work on formative assessment tasks provides feedback to both the teacher and the student about what may be needed to improve teacher instruction and student performance. Formative assessments are generally completed in the classroom or overnight.
Formative assessment, also known as assessment for learning, is considered practice towards meeting end of unit goals. Formative tasks gauge progress towards meeting end of the unit objectives. In accordance with IBMYP, best assessment practices, as well as APS guidelines, formative tasks have substantially less weight when compared to summative tasks.
Using IBMYP rubrics with formative assessments
IBMYP rubrics are used to determine grades on summative tasks. The IBMYP criteria may be used to score formative tasks as a means of giving students clear guidance on end of unit expectations, however, IBMYP scores on formative work do not count towards the quarter, semester, or end of year grades.
Formative tasks may include:
- Pre-assessment activities
- Weekly quizzes
- Self-reflection: Students monitor and rate their own performance of a task or understanding of a concept or their social and affective skills demonstrated in during course of the unit
- Checking for understanding strategies
- Peer and self-assessments using rubrics or checklists
- Exit slips on which students answer a brief set of questions at the end of the period
Planning Assessment Tasks and Awarding Achievement Levels
- Grade/subject teams of teachers plan common summative assessment tasks to demonstrate mastery of SOLs and attainment of IBMYP objectives. When possible, teams also plan and implement the common formative tasks while differentiating to meet the needs of their students.
- Via student assessment tasks, attainment of IBMYP objectives is assessed at least twice during the school year.
- Grade/subject area teams of teachers share in assessing student work samples to standardize assessment practices.
- A summary of the assessment objectives and grade specific rubrics for each subject are available on the TJMS website, and included in the teachers’ syllabi given to students at the beginning of the year.
- For the summative work to assess IBMYP objectives, achievement levels are determined using IBMYP rubrics. The IBMYP achievement level is entered in Synergy.*
- Grades reflect student achievement and not student behavior.
- At the mid-point of each quarter, students receive a “Detailed Progress Report” in each subject area that denotes achievement levels/grades awarded for all assignments of that period. IB award levels are reported in the “Detailed Progress Report”.
- Arlington Public Schools report cards that reflect evaluative grades in each subject are issued quarterly. Quarterly grades are based on a 4 point scale that correlates to letter grades (A-E).
* Awarded achievement levels are automatically converted to a comparable APS numerical score to be calculated into the APS grade.