The SD64 K-12 Innovation Partnership — a Postscript

With just two months remaining in the second year of BC’s K-12 Innovation Partnership project, about 25 educators from Gulf Islands schools gathered for a project review. The May 5th review was about the Communicating Student Learning initiative with our focus on enhancing student ownership of learning by having students self-evaluate and set learning goals. Student-led conferences, student reflection, portfolios, pedagogical narratives, and grade-less reporting are all practices that have been collaboratively refined over the past two years to best engage students and parents in learning.

Thousands of students, teachers and parents have been impacted by the project. For example, “from interviews of primary students completed in early May (2016), the interviewers noted that students involved in the project were more metacognitive (thinking about their own mental processes) in their responses than students not involved. For example, in response to “What helps you learn?” students not involved with the project responded with “listening” or “paying attention” whereas those involved in the project had deeper, more reflective answers such as “setting goals” or “self-assessing my work.” (Learning & Assessment Survey, SD64, 2016). In addition to these hundreds of students, there were students, parents and teachers involved in the project from kindergarten through grade 12.

Participants at our meeting on May 5th believe the assessment types highlighted in the project result in students who are more engaged in their learning. In particular, teachers have observed an increase in student voice and greater authenticity in assessments. Other evidence of increased student engagement includes greater accountability and student ownership for their learning, more focus on the learning, and a greater confidence level for students.

At the May 5th Forum, teachers reported that greater accountability for learning is now provided to parents. Reporting has turned into more of a three-way conversation about a child’s learning and is based on ongoing assessment in which the student has a voice. “Helping parents understand the value of self-reflection and self-leadership” for students is also one of our biggest challenges, wrote one participant. Others expressed similar thoughts and noted the importance of keeping parent involvement high.

Communicating Student Learning Forum

The need for a systemic approach that maintains a record, that is simple, and that focuses on growth has led to the development of a “Snapshot” tool. This tool collects evidence of learning and captures student voice alongside the teacher and parent voice. It also highlights next steps in learning. The ‘Snapshot’ has spawned other new models for capturing the progress of a student’s reading journey, or an exit interview with a student.

Other challenges that need to be addressed include finding time for professional conversations, and prioritizing practices to keep assessment and learning manageable and focused on the student learning. Grade level groups met during the last half of the forum to design next steps as we consolidate and extend our work in ways that keep student engagement at the heart of our work.

For a brief overview of the K-12 Innovation Partnership for Gulf Islands Schools, click here.

Educators will be interested in notes from May 5th’s “Communicating Student Learning Forum” found here.

  1. Where are we at?
  2. The Biggest Challenge
  3. Summary of Grade Group discussions: Challenges & Next Steps

Doug Livingston
Director of Instruction — Learning Services

photos: John Cameron