Teaching & Assessment

Teaching & 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.

Educational Standards

Educational standards are the learning goals for what students will know and be able to do in each subject throughout school. Content standards provide important concepts, knowledge and skills. 

English: Common Core 
Math:  Common Core
Performing Arts: National Core Arts Standards
Physical Education + Health: Shape America 
Religious Education:  HKIS Standards 
Science: NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards)
Social Studies: C3 Standards (College, Career, and Civic Life)
Visual Arts:  HKIS Standards 
World Languages: ACTFL

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