Over the past fortnight, Whitefriars College staff have engaged in thousands of Student Parent Teacher conferences. I always appreciate the opportunity to meet the families of my students in a three-way dialogue about learning. At this time of the year, feedback about engagement in learning has the potential to drastically improve learning outcomes – finding out that your young person lacks stamina for learning or rarely completes set work at the end of the semester is too late!
As the parent of a primary school aged child, I relish to opportunity to hear my son reflect on his learning. It brings me great joy to hear him provide us with insights as to how he is progressing in his learning and what he needs to do next to improve. This includes identifying “positive learning partners” who bring out the best of him in the learning environment. It is, thus, important that as educators and parents, we continue to hold our teenage boys accountable for how they ‘show up’ to learn every day. While each of our students is afforded the right to learn, with this comes both the responsibility to respond to the feedback provided and to ensure that their actions contribute to the creation of a positive and productive classroom environment where all can achieve personal excellence.
Whitefriars College adopts a ‘continuous reporting’ approach which sees descriptive feedback made available to students and parents on Whitefriars Learn/Engage throughout the semester. An overview of each assessment task is provided on Whitefriars Learn/Engage prior to the task, which articulates the key knowledge and skills which will be assessed and the conditions under which the task will be completed. We encourage students and parents to regularly review this information to ensure a common, shared understanding as to what has been taught and what will be assessed across the semester.
“Effective feedback is designed to determine a learner’s level of understanding and skill development to plan the next steps towards achieving the learning intentions or goals.”
(Department of Education and Training Victoria, 2022)
When Whitefriars College students undertake assessment tasks, the results of these assessments are displayed to parents and students on both Whitefriars Learn/Engage and on their end of semester report. Teachers provide feedback on the learner’s performance relative to what has been taught (learning intentions) during the topic or unit on Whitefriars Learn/Engage either in the form of a descriptive rubric or in a comment. Teachers will also express what the student needs to do to further develop their knowledge and skills.
After consultation with the Learning Team and student leaders, the decision has been made to move away from communicating achievement via letter grades. Letter grades communicate an achievement band to students and parents rather than providing specific information about student performance on a set task. This year, students and parents will instead see achievement on assessment tasks communicated as a percentage, as well as the cohort average for the task. It is intended that the proposed changes to our existing assessment and reporting practices will provide more specific information to learners and their families about progress in learning.
Mrs Catherine Spurritt
Deputy Principal – Learning & Teaching