Having a year to begin to change assessment practices prior to
the report card being published for the first time is advisable.
Changing the report card, the grade book, and the assessment
tools all at once would be overwhelming for faculty and perhaps
Providing expert research and guidance to the faculty is vital.
Most Principals will be knowledgeable on this topic but as we all
know, more than one source is vital to feel really well informed.
Book studies and conference opportunities allowed us to seek
expert advice. We determined what we could tweak based on
our context and goals and what had already been researched by
experts and was a ‘given’.
The report was not the goal – the goal was learning. The grade
book shows the learning journey and the focus is on growth and
metacognition. Choosing the new grade book format was as
important as designing the report.
What We Might Have Done Differently
Discuss the change with students earlier in the process. Once
teachers and parents begin talking about the change, students
should understand what is being discussed.
Spend more time thinking about the set up and choice of the
grade book. While our Haiku grade book is a great tool, it is not
able to do all we would like. That being said, very few systems are
flexible enough to allow a school to individualize particularly in a
Standards Based system.
Find more ways for teachers to share their assessment tools with
one another and to learn more about the way these tools need
to be changed in a standards based system in order to reflect the
The most important factor in changing to a standards based system is to
really ensure that the faculty has a deep conceptual understanding of this
approach. You can have guidelines, ‘rules’ and steps but if the primary
users of the assessment and reporting tools do not understand the work
deeply, then they cannot be independent and informed practitioners.