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.
Philosophy of Assessment
Assessment, grading and reporting are elements of a feedback cycle that supports learning. Assessment is the ongoing process of gathering a variety of evidence of student learning, and is embedded within the cycles of teaching and learning. Evidence may be collected through a range of developmentally appropriate methods, for example observation, conversation with students and reviews of student work and performances. Grading is the process of evaluating student evidence against a set of standards/criteria in order to provide feedback to students about their progress toward the intended learning. Reporting is the communication of learning progress, growth, and achievement to students, parents and the wider community.
At HKIS we believe
The purpose of an effective assessment, grading and reporting system is to clearly, accurately, and consistently support student learning, by communicating learning progress, growth, and achievement to students, families, educators, and external institutions. This ensures all members have the information they need to make important decisions about a student’s readiness for future opportunities.
Therefore, HKIS educators will:
- Measure, document and report student progress and proficiency against a set of clearly defined content-area standards and learning objectives.
- Collaborate and calibrate with colleagues to ensure aligned grading practices.
- Measure and provide feedback on behaviors and dispositions separately from academic progress.
- Provide timely, relevant, and actionable feedback about student growth, areas of strength, and process that empowers and motivates students.
- Provide students with opportunities for self evaluation and reflection on their strengths, areas for growth, and next steps.
- Use data from grading and reporting to make informed decisions about educational programs, in order to support each student’s learning journey.