TorontoeSchool's approach to assessment and evaluation is based on the Ontario Ministry of Education's Growing Success 2010 document. Assessment is the process of gathering information that accurately reflects how well a student is achieving the curriculum expectations in a subject or course.
The primary purpose of assessment is to improve student learning. Assessment for this purpose is seen as both "assessment for learning" and "assessment as learning". As part of assessment for learning, teachers provide students with descriptive feedback and coaching for improvement. Teachers engage in assessment as learning by helping all students develop their capacity to be independent, autonomous learners who are able to set individual goals, monitor their own progress, determine next steps, and reflect on their thinking and learning. Toronto eSchool teachers use evidence from a variety of sources in their assessment. These include formal and informal observations, discussions, conversations, questioning, assignments, projects, portfolios, self-assessments, self-reflections, essays, and tests.
Assessment occurs concurrently and seamlessly with instruction. Our courses contain multiple opportunities for students to obtain information about their progress and achievement, and to receive feedback that will help them improve their learning. Students can monitor their own success through the tracking of learning goals and success criteria throughout all courses.
Summative "assessment of learning" activities occur at or near the end of periods of learning. Evidence of student achievement for evaluation is also collected over time from different sources, such as discussions, conversations and observation of the development of the student's learning. Using multiple sources of evidence increases the reliability and validity of this evaluation. The evaluations are expressed as a percentage based upon the levels of achievement.
Learning resources that reflect the broad range of students' interests, backgrounds, cultures, and experiences are an important aspect of an inclusive English program. In such a program, learning materials involve protagonists of both sexes from a wide variety of backgrounds. Teachers routinely use materials that reflect the diversity of Canadian and world cultures, including those of contemporary First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples, and make them available to students. Short stories, novels, magazine and newspaper articles, television programs, and films provide opportunities for students to explore issues relating to their self-identity. In inclusive programs, students are made aware of the historical, cultural, and political contexts for both the traditional and non-traditional gender and social roles represented in the materials they are studying. Stories, novels, informational texts, and media works relating to the immigrant experience provide rich thematic material for study, as well as the opportunity for students new to Canada to share their knowledge and experiences with others. In addition, in the context of the English program, both students and teachers should become aware of aspects of intercultural communication - for example, by exploring how different cultures interpret the use of eye contact and body language in conversation and during presentations. Resources should be chosen not only to reflect diversity but also on the basis of their appeal for both girls and boys in the classroom. Recent research has shown that many boys are interested in informational materials, such as manuals and graphic texts, as opposed to works of fiction, which are often more appealing to girls. Both sexes read Internet materials, such as website articles, e-mail, and chat messages, outside the classroom. The development of critical thinking skills is integral to the English curriculum. In the context of what is now called "critical literacy", these skills include the ability to identify perspectives, values, and issues; detect bias; and read for implicit as well as overt meaning. In the English program, students develop the ability to detect negative bias and stereotypes in literary texts and informational materials. When using biased informational texts, or literary works containing negative stereotypes, for the express purpose of critical analysis, teachers must take into account the potential negative impact of bias on students and use appropriate strategies to address students' responses. Critical literacy also involves asking questions and challenging the status quo, and leads students to look at issues of power and justice in society. The program empowers students by enabling them to express themselves and to speak out about issues that strongly affect them. Literature studies and media studies also afford both students and teachers a unique opportunity to explore the social and emotional impact of bullying, violence, and discrimination in the form of racism, sexism, or homophobia on individuals and families.
Teachers who are planning a program in this subject will make an effort to take into account considerations for program planning that align with the Ontario Ministry of Education policy and initiatives in a number of important areas :
- Education for students with special education needs
- Environmental education
- Equity and inclusive education
- Financial literacy education
- Ontario First Nations, Metis, and Inuit education
- Role of information and communications technology
- English language learners
- Career education
- Cooperative education and other workplace experiences
- Health and safety
1. Education for Students with Special Education Needs:
Torontoeschool is committed to ensuring that all students are provided with the learning opportunities and supports they require to gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to succeed in a rapidly changing society. The context of special education and the provision of special education programs and services for exceptional students in Ontario are constantly evolving. Provisions included in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code have driven some of these changes. Others have resulted from the evolution and sharing of best practices related to the teaching and assessment of students with special educational needs.
The provision of special education programs and services for students at Torontoeschool rests within a legal framework The Education Act and the regulations related to it set out the legal responsibilities pertaining to special education. They provide comprehensive procedures for the identification of exceptional pupils, for the placement of those pupils in educational settings where
the special education programs and services appropriate to their needs can be delivered, and for the review of the identification of exceptional pupils and their placement.
Teachers will take into account the needs of exceptional students as set out in the students' Individual Education Plan. The online courses offer a vast array of opportunities for students with special educations needs to acquire the knowledge and skills required for our evolving society. Students who use alternative techniques for communication may find a venue to use these special skills in these courses. There are a number of technical and learning aids that can assist in meeting the needs of exceptional students as set out in their Individual Education Plan. In the process of taking their online course, students may use a personal amplification system, tela-typewriter (via Bell relay service), an oral or a sign-language interpreter, a scribe, specialized computer programs, time extensions, ability to change font size, oral readers, etc.
2. Environmental Education:
Environmental education teaches students about how the planet's physical and biological systems work, and how we can create a more sustainable future. Good curriculum design allows environmental issues and topics to be woven in and out of the online course content. This ensures that the student will have opportunities to acquire the knowledge, skills, perspectives and practices needed to become an environmentally literate citizen. The online course should provide opportunities for each student to address environmental issues in their home, in their local community, or even at the global level.
3. Equity and Inclusive Education:
Torontoeschool is taking important steps to reduce discrimination and embrace diversity in our online school in order to improve overall student achievement and reduce achievement gaps due to discrimination. The Ontario Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy was launched in April 2009 and states that all members of the Torontoeschool community are to be treated with respect and dignity. This strategy is helping Torontoeschool educators better identify and remove discriminatory biases and systemic barriers to student achievement. These barriers related to racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination may prevent some students from reaching their full potential. The strategy supports the Ministry's key education priorities of high student achievement, reduced gaps in student achievement and increased accountability and public confidence in Ontario's schools. Students, regardless of their background or personal circumstances, must be given every opportunity to reach their full potential. Research shows that when students feel welcomed and accepted in their school, they are more likely to succeed academically. Torontoeschool desires to create a culture of high expectations where factors such as race, age, gender, sexual orientation and socio-economic status do not prevent students from achieving ambitious outcomes.
4. Financial Literacy Education:
Financial literacy may be defined as having the knowledge and skills needed to make responsible economic and financial decisions with competence and confidence. Since making financial decisions has become an increasingly complex task in the modern world, students need to have knowledge in various areas and a wide range of skills in order to make informed decisions about financial matters.
Students need to be aware of risks that accompany various financial choices. They need to develop an understanding of world economic forces as well as ways in which they themselves can respond to those influences and make informed choices. Torontoeschool considers it essential that financial literacy be considered an important attribute of a well-educated population. In addition to acquiring knowledge in such specific areas as saving, spending, borrowing, and investing, students need to develop skills in problem solving, inquiry, decision making, critical thinking, and critical literacy related to financial and other issues. The goal is to help students acquire the knowledge and skills that will enable them to understand and respond to complex issues regarding their own personal finances and the finances of their families, as well as to develop an understanding of local and global effects of world economic forces and the social, environmental, and ethical implications of their own choices as consumers. The Ministry of Education and Torontoeschool are working to embed financial literacy expectations and opportunities in all courses as appropriate, as part of the ongoing curriculum review process.
5. Ontario First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Education:
First Nation, Metis, and Inuit students in Ontario will need to have the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to successfully complete their elementary and secondary education in order to pursue postsecondary education or training and/or to enter the workforce. They will need to have the traditional and contemporary knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to be socially contributive, politically active, and economically prosperous citizens of the world. All students in Ontario will need to have knowledge and appreciation of contemporary and traditional First Nation, Metis, and Inuit traditions, cultures, and perspectives. Torontoeschool and the Ministry of Education are committed to First Nation, Metis, and Inuit student success. Torontoeschool teachers are committed to (1) developing strategies that will increase the capacity of the education system to respond to the learning and cultural needs of First Nation, Metis, and Inuit students; (2) providing quality programs, services, and resources to help create learning opportunities for First Nation, Metis, and Inuit students that support improved academic achievement and identity building; (3) providing a curriculum that facilitates learning about contemporary and traditional First Nation, Metis, and Inuit cultures, histories, and perspectives among all students where possible; and (4) developing and implementing strategies that facilitate increased participation by First Nation, Metis, and Inuit parents, students, communities, and organizations in working to support the academic success of the student.
6. The Role of Information and Communications Technology in the Curriculum.
Information literacy is the ability to access, select, gather, critically evaluate, and create information. Communication literacy refers to the ability to communicate information and to use the information obtained to solve problems and make decisions. Information and communications technologies are utilized by all Torontoeschool students when the situation is appropriate within their online course. As a result, students will develop transferable skills through their experience with word processing, internet research, presentation software, and telecommunication tools, as would be expected in any other course or any business environment.
7. English Language Learners:
This Torontoeschool online course can provide a wide range of options to address the needs of ESL/ELD students. This online course must be flexible in order to accommodate the needs of
students who require instruction in English as a second language or English literacy development. The Torontoeschool teacher considers it to be their responsibility to help students develop their ability to use the English language properly. Appropriate modifications to teaching, learning, and evaluation strategies in this course may be made in order to help students gain proficiency in English, since students taking English as a second language at the secondary level have limited time in which to develop this proficiency. This online course can provide a wide range of options to address the needs of ESL/ELD students. Well written content will aid ESL students in mastering not only the content of this course, but as well, the English language and all of its idiosyncrasies. Torontoeschool has created course content to enrich the student's learning experience. In addition, since many occupations in Canada require employees with capabilities in the English language, many students will learn English language skills which can contribute to their success in the larger world.
8. Career Education:
As the online student progresses through their online course, their teacher is available to help the student prepare for employment in a huge number of diverse areas. With the help of their teacher, students will learn to set and achieve goals and will gain experience in making meaningful decisions concerning their career choices. The skills, knowledge and creativity that students acquire through this online course are essential for a wide range of careers. Throughout their secondary school education, students will learn about the educational and career opportunities that are available to them; explore and evaluate a variety of those opportunities; relate what they learn in their courses to potential careers in a variety of fields; and learn to make appropriate educational and career choices.
9. Cooperative Education and Other Workplace Experiences:
By applying the skills they have developed, students will readily connect their classroom learning to real-life activities in the world in which they live. Cooperative education and other workplace experiences will broaden their knowledge of employment opportunities in a wide range of fields. In addition, students will increase their understanding of workplace practices and the nature of the employer-employee relationship. Torontoeschool teachers will try to help students link to Ministry programs to ensure that students have information concerning programs and opportunities.
10. Health and Safety:
Although health and safety issues are not usually associated with language education, they
may be important when the learning involves fieldwork. Out-of-school fieldwork can
provide an exciting and authentic dimension to students' learning experiences. Teachers
must preview and plan these activities carefully to protect students' health and safety.