Teaching and Assessment

Teaching for Understanding

HKIS uses a comprehensive standards-based curriculum in which we teach for understanding. We align curriculum, instruction, and assessment to allow students to demonstrate understanding. Students understand when they:

  • Acquire important new knowledge and skills
  • Make meaning of big ideas related to the knowledge and skills
  • Transfer this learning to new and authentic situations (Wiggins & McTighe, in press)

The Understanding by Design (UbD) model, which seeks to structure teaching for understanding, guides us in the formulation of our written curriculum. Core principles of teaching for understanding include the following:

  • Units of study and the classroom environment are structured around major concepts and principles known as enduring understandings. These understandings, derived from the standards and benchmarks, extend beyond a single subject area and have lasting value outside the classroom. These big ideas are abstract, not obvious, and require inquiry rather than limited coverage.
  • Essential questions are used to raise student interest in the content of the unit and lead to development of the enduring understandings. Such questions are central to the curriculum and do not yield a single answer.
  • Essential questions are explicitly stated for students at the outset of the unit and remain the focus throughout the unit’s duration.
  • Specific knowledge and skills are taught so students learn requisite subject knowledge. These are aligned with the enduring understandings and essential questions.
  • Multiple forms of assessment are used to allow students to demonstrate their understanding in various ways.
  • Formative assessments are used to guide instruction and student goal-setting.
  • Summative assessment tasks and accompanying evaluation criteria are made explicit to students as developmentally appropriate.
  • Classroom instructional activities are all designed to engage students in building knowledge and skills and acquire understanding. Activities are differentiated to meet the needs of diverse learners.

Philosophy of Assessment

The purpose of assessment is to promote learning. Assessment is a process of gathering a variety of evidence to identify a student's level of attainment of learning goals.

The evidence helps students understand their strengths and how they can improve their learning and helps teachers understand how they can improve instruction. In addition, assessment forms the basis of reporting to students and parents the current level of students’ attainment of learning goals. A robust system of assessment is relevant and accurate, ongoing, informative and timely, and understandable to all.

Relevant and Accurate

Assessment is tied directly to the learning goals of a given course or program. The goals are made explicit in the course’s standards and benchmarks as well as the school-wide SLRs. Expectations around these goals are clear for all students as developmentally appropriate. Students need to know the level of attainment they are expected to reach as they work toward these clear learning goals. Likewise, measurement of attainment in these goals needs to be accurate, using a variety of methods appropriate to measure the targets set and appropriate to the age of the students.


Assessment is an ongoing process built into the cycles of teaching and learning. Though there are times (such as final exams in upper grades) when assessment is a culmination of learning, in general assessment is incorporated into teaching and learning and the results of assessments are used by teachers and students to guide future learning.

Informative and Timely

Results and feedback are most useful when they are provided as close to the assessment as practical, so students and teachers can employ strategies for growth. Given the opportunity to reflect on results, students are able to set goals for future learning and performance of learning tasks that enhance progress


As developmentally appropriate, students are fully involved in the assessment process and are able to understand and explain the ways in which assessment evaluates and enhances their learning.

Student Learning Results Operational Definitions

Academic Excellence

HKIS provides services for students with mild special learning needs including various learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder and spectrum disorders. Students are expected to function in and profit from the regular classroom curriculum with student service support designed to bridge student learning gaps with classroom expectations. Up to 10% of the entire student body can be supported within our current structure. At all divisions, teachers, parents or administrators can refer a student to the Student Review Team (SRT), a solution-focused meeting where learning strengths and challenges are considered and an action plan is developed to address areas of need.

Learning Specialists are trained in Special Education and related fields (e.g. Speech/Language Pathology) and follow a collaborative model based on early intervention, prevention and best practices in remediation. Students who have been identified with special learning needs are provided a continuum of supportive services differentiated to meet individual needs. Learning specialists provide consultation, collaborative planning, team teaching and small group instruction as well as individual remediation using supplemental curriculum materials. Each student in the Special Learning Needs program has an individualized learning plan to document needed accommodations and interventions that optimize learning.


Students will exhibit understanding of Christianity by:
  • Describing and explaining the key principles of Christianity;
  • Connecting Christian terminology and symbols to key principles;
  • Making sense of the multiple ways the Bible is interpreted within the Christian community;
  • Comparing key concepts, teachings, practices and texts of Christianity;
  • Recognizing a connection between Christian principles and ethical conduct
Students will exhibit understanding of other religions by:
  • Describing and explaining the key principles of other religions;
  • Connecting terminology and symbols from other religions to key principles from other religions;
  • Making sense of the multiple ways other sacred writings are interpreted;
  • Comparing key concepts, teachings, practices, and texts of other religions;
  • Recognizing connections between the principles of other religions and ethical conduct .
Students will demonstrate respect for Christianity and other religions by:
  • Respecting the religious rituals/spirituality of others;
  • Respecting the diverse religious and spiritual lives and traditions of others.
Students will demonstrate their personal spiritual identities by:
  • Engaging in dialogue about Christianity and other religious worldviews in daily life;
  • Identifying connections with their personal beliefs and others;
  • Reflecting upon their own spiritual identities;
  • Living out their worldviews in a variety of ways.

Character Development

Character Development

Students will demonstrate caring and respect by:
  • Identifying others’ needs and looking for ways to help.
  • Fostering care and respect in the community.
  • Valuing the differences among people.
  • Exhibiting self-control.
  • Listening and interacting in an appropriate manner.
  • Being considerate of materials, facilities and resources.
Students will exhibit integrity by:
  • Demonstrating honesty and trustworthiness in relationships and academics.
  • Accepting responsibility for their own actions.
Students will display the courage to stand up for what is right by:
  • Identifying with a value system based on ethical principles.
  • Speaking or acting in accordance with their values.
  • Supporting others who speak or act with courage.

Self-Motivated Learning

Students demonstrate persistence and engagement by:
  • Recognizing their intellectual style, strengths and weaknesses.
  • Consistently applying different strategies to enhance interest until a goal is achieved.
  • Sustaining or increasing effort in the face of difficulty.
  • Actively seeking help when necessary.
Students exhibit risk-taking by:
  • Applying new strategies to different assignments and projects.
  • Seeking and engaging in challenging tasks that enhance learning.
  • Exploring new interests.
Students demonstrate application of a variety of learning and motivation strategies by:
  • Engaging in effective thinking about their own thinking (metacognition).
  • Knowing a variety of key learning and motivation strategies.
  • Appropriately applying a variety of learning and motivation strategies.
  • Respecting the diverse learning needs and styles of other students.
Students demonstrate control and regulation of their learning process by:
  • Accurately self-assessing on an on-going basis.
  • Continuously reflecting, setting, monitoring and revising goals.
  • Accepting feedback and criticism without defensiveness.
  • Adapting and adjusting learning and motivation strategies used to meet their needs.
Students enjoy the process of learning and what they are learning by:
  • Pursuing personal interests.
  • Taking learning risks when their interest is piqued.
  • Showing persistence in an area of passion.

Contributing to Society

Students will demonstrate appropriate interpersonal skills by:
  • Working well with others.
  • Respecting other points of view.
  • Accepting diversity.
  • Actively participating.
  • Listening and making connections with others.
  • Building cross cultural relationships.
  • Working with others to achieve goals.
  • Helping to resolve conflicts.
Students will make contributions by:
  • Identifying a need;
  • Voluntarily participating in service.
  • Contributing time, talent or money, often involving a personal sacrifice.
  • Appreciating the value of service.
  • Contributing to family, community and/or the world.
  • Following through on service commitments.
  • Reflecting on service experiences.
  • Studying in the classroom issues raised by their service experiences.
Students will exhibit global citizenship by:
  • Remaining conversant on current events.
  • Being aware of the impact of major global, social and environmental events.
  • Confronting discrimination and stereotypes.
  • Appreciating global diversity.
  • Developing a multi-cultural perspective.
  • Empathizing with those representing a minority position.

Chinese Culture

Students will demonstrate understanding of China in each of the following areas:
  • Social sciences (such as history, geography, politics and current events).
  • Philosophy and religion.
  • Language, literature and the arts.
  • Chinese society (such as traditions and lifestyles).
Students will appreciate/experience Chinese Culture by:
  • Making connections between personal experiences and aspects of Chinese Culture.
  • Being actively involved in a variety of Chinese cultural experiences.
  • Behaving in culturally appropriate ways.
  • Integrating with the people of Greater China and their communities.

Standards-based – Educational standards define the landscape of what students will learn in various subjects throughout school. In this sense, the curriculum is based on content standards that lay out important knowledge, skills, and understanding. The level to which these are to be achieved are laid out in benchmarks set for each grade level.

Formative assessment – Assessment tasks that are designed to give students feedback over time that will enable them to set goals and move forward with their learning as opposed to making a final judgment about a student’s ability.

Summative assessment – Assessment tasks that are designed to capture a student’s performance at one point in time after instruction and to make a judgment about the student’s ability according to a grade-level benchmark. These assessments are used to inform report card grades.