Honouring learning as a continuous process rather than a series of separate events, teachers design opportunities for students to develop an understanding of learning processes and to reflect on their learning journeys. Using the Communication, Thinking, and Personal and Social Competencies, students take ownership of sharing their learning with others, think critically about their evidence of learning, all while building a positive and accurate sense of self. Ultimately, transforming reporting to communicating student learning activates student voice, informs teachers practice, engages parents, and shifts the ownership from teachers to a shared ownership among students, parents, and teachers.
Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors. Learning is connected to the broader community and extends beyond the walls of the classroom and school. Connecting learning with community members, parents and extended family reinforces the links between school and other aspects of the learner’s life.
Learning involves generational roles and responsibilities. Teaching and learning involves everyone in the community: Elders, classroom teachers, family members, mentors and older and younger students. Learning is a socially constructed activity in which we work side by side with more knowledgeable experts to learn a new skill or craft in an authentic setting.
Learning is embedded in memory, history, and story. All learners can benefit when oral methods are used to recall and recount the past. Stories help all of us make meaning of life and allow us to step out of our own shoes, see differently, and increase our empathy for others. CSL includes looking back at where a learner was and reflecting on where they are now.
Learning involves patience and time. Effective instruction honours learning as a process in which teachers gradually shift responsibility of learning to students over time. To further learning and develop awareness of oneself as a learner, students must reflect on their learning, thereby becoming more autonomous and empowered to take ownership of their learning. CSL involves demonstrating the growth of a learner, skills, knowledge, and understanding, over time.
The shift from reporting to communicating student learning encourages schools to provide a continuous window into student learning. Students, teachers, and parents design together, meaningful samples and evidence of student learning over time to demonstrate progress aligned with learning standards.
To support stakeholders with this shift, Surrey Schools:
- Models its vision for Communicating Student Learning through the capturing and sharing of learning on our “Learning In Action” page;
- Employees a District Principal and two helping teachers to support schools in continually improving how we communicate student learning to parents;
- Provides significant on-going support in the form of professional development opportunities and hardware to school communities in order to explore a variety of inquiry questions regarding CSL;
- Provides parents and school communities with digital resource platforms to help deepen understanding of the CSL shift as well as the self-assessment of core competencies;
- Articulates its vision for CSL through the 4 essential dimensions of communicating student learning (capturing learning, opening doors, conferencing, and reporting) and provides a framework for quality documentation of learning: (authentic evidence of growth over time, reflective of quality assessment and learning standards, activating the voice of students, teachers, and parents)
What has the “SHIFT” looked like so far?
- More ongoing, responsive, and descriptive communication of student learning, including:
An increase of K-7 teachers communicating student learning via digital portfolios, from approximately 25% in 2015/16 to 55% in 2017/18, as well as a growing number of secondary teachers beginning to supplement reporting with digital portfolios and locally-developed communication forms;
The dominant voice in digital portfolios being that of the student, as demonstrated in the number of comments made within digital portfolio by each stakeholder (graph below);
An increased use of proficiency indicators and descriptive forms of feedback to describe and assess student learning (graph below);
Introduction of a more descriptive student progress report that includes student voice and emphasizes descriptive teacher feedback;
Surrey’s participation in the BC Ministry of Education’s work towards further developing MyEducation BC as an enhanced reporting tool in Elementary and Secondary and a learning portal in Secondary schools, all in an effort to further improve how we communicate student learning to parents; and
- Within professional development opportunities, an increased emphasis on all CSL essential elements including capturing learning, opening doors, and conferencing, in addition to reporting.
- Adopting a transparent and collaborative inquiry-based school planning model that encourages schools to tell the ongoing “story” of learning. The inquiry process at the school level begins with the essential question of, “What do we know about our learners?” An important initial step is determining what evidence is at hand. Evidence is not exclusively “data” – but rather, the focus is on what we know about our learners, and where students are at in their learning. Evidence is actual documentation of learning and growth over time. A “scan” of students and their learning is the natural starting place. What we know about our learners will inform the development of not only a meaningful school-based inquiry question, but also next steps in teaching and learning. All school plans are transparent and readily available to parents online.
Self-Assessment Of Core Competencies
The core competencies along with literacy and numeracy foundations and essential content and concepts are at the centre of the redesign of curriculum and assessment. Core competencies are sets of intellectual, personal, and social and emotional proficiencies that all students need to develop in order to engage in deep learning and life-long learning. Competencies come into play when students are engaged in “doing” in any area of learning. This includes activities where students use thinking, collaboration, and communication to solve problems, address issues, or make decisions. The ultimate goal is for learners to employ the core competencies every day in school and in life, and for the core competencies to be an integral part of the learning in all curriculum areas. BC Ministry of Education
Students and parents share their experiences when the communication of student learning shifts from reporting “events” to a more ongoing process that activates student voice and makes learning visible to parents through digital portfolios.
Parents and care-givers are an integral part of a child’s education. The continuous communication of a child’s learning provides parents with the ability to ‘see’ what their child is learning, how that learning is progressing, and what they can do to support that learning. Henderson and Berla
The Surrey Portfolio Pathway Partnership – Beyond a Single Data Point
The Surrey Portfolio Pathway Partnership, or S3P, is a response to the changes taking place in the K-12 system and is intended to create a pathway through which students from the Surrey School District can be admitted to KPU with their portfolios. Portfolios show a more complete picture of each and every individual’s skills and abilities than traditional letter grades. The goal, then, of the S3P project is to bridge the gap that currently exists between the K-12 school system and post-secondary. This goal is in line with the K-16 movement – which seeks to improve the transition from grade 12 to post-secondary study. It is also in line with KPU’s open access mandate, because of which we look for talent that others might not see.