Reporting to Parents
Next week you will receive your child’s 2021 Semester 1 report. The reports you receive as parents/carers are summative reports. They provide information about your child’s learning and over almost two terms of school. They are intended to provide you with valuable information about your child – achievement levels, effort invested, progress made, work habits and attendance.
Through the comments made under each learning area heading (Science, English, Maths etc) teachers aim to provide you with a context for the ‘grade’ allocated. Teachers use the WA Curriculum to plan educational programs in Maths, English, Science and Humanities and Social Sciences (HaSS), Health and Physical Education, The Arts (Music and Visual Arts), Technologies (Digital Technologies and Design and Technologies) and Languages.
Each year level from Pre-Primary to Year 6 has an Achievement Standard for each learning area. This captures the knowledge, understandings and skills deemed essential for students to master at their year level. The Achievement Standard embodies an entire year of learning. At the end of each semester, teachers make judgements about the extent to which each child has demonstrated learning in each area. The Semester 1 report includes judgements based only on what has been taught in Semester 1. For example, the conversion of decimals to fractions might be included in an Achievement Standard, but teachers will only assess this if it has been explicitly taught that semester.
Levels of achievement, also known as ‘grades’, are determined through careful consideration and review of multiple assessment opportunities. While a ‘C’ grade is described as a ‘satisfactory’ level of achievement; it is perhaps more accurate to say that it is the EXPECTED level of achievement for that year level. Teachers refer to resources developed by School Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA)*, to assist them in determining the extent to which a child has demonstrated learning. They have points of reference for what ‘expected achievement’ (C grade) looks like, what ‘good achievement’ (B grade) looks like etc. Teachers also work collaboratively with colleagues who teach the same year level so that they can be confident that there is consistency among the levels or grades they assign.
Why Might My Child’s Grades Change?
Children’s learning and development also doesn’t occur in neat segments of a year or progress at the same rate over time. Learning may occur in bursts; more progress may be made in a given year than in the previous or following year. What matters most is that each child is moving forward. If a child is achieving at the expected level in Semester 1 and again in Semester 2, he/she has continued to make progress, as they have mastered another six months of learning … at the expected level.
Another reason children’s levels of achievement might change from one year to the next, or from one semester to the next, is that the content or context may be quite different. A child might grasp the concept of ‘forces’ in Science but struggle with a different topic focused on ‘life cycles’. Another child might be very good at measuring ‘length’ and ‘mass’ in Maths – Measurement and Geometry, but find the measurement of ‘time’ more abstract and difficult.
Children also often ‘behave’ differently in different contexts. It makes sense that a child will be able demonstrate learning more easily when working one-on-one with a teacher or tutor than he/she will in a small group or a large group. Sometimes this means that what you see your child do at home or with a tutor, may differ from what they demonstrate at school. If something in your child’s report seems at odds with what you believe your child knows and can do, please mention this to your child’s teacher. He /she will be able to provide you with some more detailed information about the school-based assessments.
Finally, the teaching and learning process typically passes through different phases. When new learning is introduced, teachers help students identify what they already know, so students can connect something new to something they already know. They will be introduced to the new learning in a variety of ways and contexts. Students will then have an opportunity for ‘guided’ practice, or practice with fairly close supervision. From there they develop independence and fluency, and then apply the new learning in different contexts. This is why consistent attendance is so important. If a child misses any element of the process above this can impact learning significantly. If you have concerns about aspects of your child’s learning it may have been impacted by missed days or a missed week.
As always, I invite you to discuss any matters about your child’s learning and development with your child’s teacher(s). If you have questions or concerns of a more general nature, you are always welcome to contact me.
* School Curriculum and Standards Authority
The School Curriculum and Standards Authority is responsible for Kindergarten to Year 12 curriculum, assessment, standards and reporting for all Western Australian schools.