Fairfax County Public Schools | IB Schools Assessment Policy
The Office of Advanced Academics collaborated with representatives of our IB schools, including IB coordinators, ESOL specialists, and MYP and DP teachers to develop our assessment policy. This is a working document.
Fairfax County Public Schools, a world-class school system, inspires, enables, and empowers students to meet high academic standards, lead ethical lives, and demonstrate responsible citizenship. FCPS prepares all students for the world of the future by giving them a broad spectrum of opportunities to prepare for education and employment beyond high school.
FCPS’ IB schools serve a variety of diverse communities and schools are accountable for the performance and academic achievement of all of its students. Coordinators will work with the leadership teams to agree best ways of reporting IB levels of achievement at each school site.
All FCPS measures academic progress through both norm-referenced and criterion (MYP) related assessment practices. There is continued emphasis on formative and summative practices that allow students to demonstrate their understanding of topics studied. FCPS has a grading and reporting system that allows for criterion-related scores to be recorded for the MYP; and progress to be recorded and reported for the PYP and DP. All criteria and required assessments by the IB are a part of each schools assessment procedures as outlined in the program standard and practices. This includes the exhibition, personal project and the extended essay. All schools are aligning their IB Programs with the FCPS Portrait of a Graduate student outcomes.
Access to FCPS IB programs allows for us to raise the bar of achievement for all students and close the achievement gap where possible. Differentiation for all students in FCPS IB Schools is reflected by the students served. Differentiation can be reflected by:
- Task-specific rubrics
- Use of various levels of rubrics and objectives
- Design of the assessment
- Accommodations supporting cues and prompts
- Assessment variations to allow for IEP/504 accommodations
- Performance tasks
- The frequency of formative assessment
The local FCPS division policy regarding assessment can be located at:
Interpretation of the Assessment Policy at Robinson Secondary School
Development of the Assessment Policy:
All IB Diploma Program (DP) teachers (approximately 70) met, first as a large group, then by subject groups, to develop this document. Additions to the document were made later to reflect our current practices in the IB Middle Years Program (MYP).
Discussion focused on:
- Best practices relating to both formative and summative assessment
- How to align IB assessment expectations with Virginia standards of instruction
- The value of on-going common assessments for each team and how the teaching and learning of those assessments reflects the goals for each team of teachers, while also aligning with IB course expectations
- The reporting of grades and progress of student work to both students and parents
- Common grading policies and practices as agreed to by the members of the team
Groups generated written documents that reflect their assessment practices and common assessments. These documents were then synthesized to create a policy that reflects what we do here at Robinson.
Dissemination of the Assessment Document:
The completed document is posted on the school server where teachers access all important documents, such as the school handbook, county grading policies, etc. The completed document was also uploaded to the school’s homepage, which has a section dedicated to the IB DP programme at our school. All new teachers to our school will have access to this document via the Robinson Secondary Information page, an internal website. by being members of the IB teacher shared folder drive that is updated by the coordinators.
Periodic Review of the Document:
Teachers Our Middle and High School Instructional Councils will revisit the policy, as well as all of the school’s policies at the beginning of each school year and make necessary adjustments and revisions as are needed because of policy or assessment changes. We will also take this initial meeting time to introduce new members of the team to the assessment expectations agreed to by the entire IB faculty, as well as the individual IB subject team. We will review the document as a large group because county policies with regard to assessment are undergoing revision. For instance, our county is currently undergoing a county-wide discussion about assessment policies. Representatives from each school are involved in a series of meetings to determine county-wide policies which will be implemented during our next school year. We have sent four representatives from our school, three of whom teach IB classes.
Interpretation of the Assessment Policy within IB MYP Courses
(Courses primarily serving students in grades 7-10)
and Non-DP Courses at Robinson Secondary School
Philosophy of Assessment
We believe that effective assessment focuses not only on students’ ability to retain content knowledge, but on their ability to apply content knowledge in meaningful pursuits such as creatively solving difficult problems, communicating for purpose, and executing an artistic vision. The MYP assessment criteria serve as one instrument to measure and communicate that type of student learning.
We believe that students’ success in higher-order tasks such as those required by the MYP assessment criteria depend on ample formative opportunities and feedback, both on knowledge and process. We believe that such assessment and feedback increases student learning.
We recognize the value of MYP criterion to provide a set of rigorous benchmarks for student achievement in all subject areas, as well as a means for acknowledging individual student’s strengths and opportunities for growth.
Using the MYP Assessment Criteria and Determining Achievement Levels
For courses serving students in Grades 7 to 10, teachers who are part of Collaborative Teams (CTs) are working towards developing and implementing at least two common assessments for each MYP criterion in their subject areas, ideally at least once each semester. Teachers who do not have the benefit of a CT are working towards the same goal independently, or in collaboration with teachers of similar classes at other FCPS IB MYP schools.
CTs can use their weekly or bi-weekly meeting times to standardize the grading of assessments, ideally doing so for the first assessment of each criterion each school year. CTs are encouraged to standardize assessment on each assessment of an MYP criterion. For courses where CTs are unavailable, teachers can work as a department and with the assistance of the MYP Coordinator to standardize the grading of assessments at least once each school year.
Recording and Reporting Student Achievement
Teachers are expected to report MYP achievement levels to parents and students.
Suggested methods for recording/reporting student achievement on MYP criterion assessments in the Student Information System (SIS) include:
a) Including the name of the MYP criterion in the SIS assignment name and/or description and posting the 1-8 score as “Not for Grading.” Teachers will then post the translated letter grade or point value as a graded assignment in SIS.
b) Including the name of the MYP criterion in the SIS assignment name and/or description, including a 1-8 to letter grade translation in the assignment description, and posting the score as a translated letter grade.
Translations between MYP scores and letter grades/point totals can be determined by teachers and CTs based upon professional opinions regarding student readiness. Those translations may differ from CT to CT and from assignment to assignment.
One possible MYP score-to-letter grade translation is:
MYP Rubric Score
FCPS Letter Grade Inputted into SIS (Associated Percentage Value)
Near the end of each school year, students in grades 7 to 10 will be given the opportunity to create a report of all of their MYP scores throughout the year. A scan/picture of this report will be posted to students’ Student Learning Plan accounts to allow students, families, and counselors to note areas of growth and areas for continued improvement.
Formative and Summative Assessment
In preparation for summative assessments involving MYP criteria, teachers and CTs make every effort to provide formative opportunities and feedback on the relevant strands during the instructional phase of the unit of study. This can be accomplished through a variety of methods, including exit tickets, peer feedback, self-assessment, and informal whole-class assessments. In addition, students are provided with the relevant MYP criterion rubric(s) in advance of completing summative assessments and given opportunities to ask questions about the rubric(s) and gain clarity on teacher expectations for the assessment.
We further recognize that summative assessments and, particularly, teacher feedback on summative assessments can also provide learning opportunities for students. When feasible and when agreed upon by CTs, teachers may elect to give students the chance to re-submit summative assessments for re-grading.
An explanation of the relationship of MYP assessment principles and practices with required systems for grading and reporting
All practices outlined above are in compliance with Virginia Department of Education and FCPS requirements and expectations for assessment at the secondary level.
As the two lists below indicate, there is also significant alignment between MYP assessment principles and the FCPS goals for grading and reporting at the secondary level as they pertain to the importance of assessment as part of the learning process, the connections between instruction and assessment, and the role of assessment in promoting student engagement. The principles set forth by MYP go beyond those set forth by FCPS, however, in their focus on real-world contexts, critical- and creative-thinking skills, and international-mindedness. At Robinson, we share the IB’s belief in these principles and see the IB MYP as a means to ensure that they play a significant role both in our instruction and assessment practices.
The purpose of the Secondary Guidelines for Grading and Reporting is to establish grading and reporting practices at the middle and high school levels in order to reach the following goals:
• Ensure that grades are based on student achievement, knowledge, and skill proficiency demonstrated in the classroom and are separated from work habits.
• Promote consistency in grading across teams, departments, and schools.
• Promote ongoing formative feedback to students.
• Promote practices that encourage continuous engagement in learning.
• Provide parents and students ongoing, credible, and useful feedback that conveys the expectations and achievement of identified standards of knowledge included in the curriculum.
• Ensure alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
Assessment in the MYP aims to:
• Support and encourage student learning by providing feedback on the learning process
• Inform, enhance and improve the teaching process
• Provide opportunity for students to exhibit transfer of skills across disciplines, such as in the personal project and interdisciplinary unit assessments
• Promote positive student attitudes towards learning
• Promote a deep understanding of subject content by supporting students in their inquiries set in real-world contexts
• Promote the development of critical- and creative-thinking skills
• Reflect the international-mindedness of the programme by allowing assessments to be set in a variety of cultural and linguistic contexts
• Support the holistic nature of the programme by including in its model principles that take account of the development of the whole student.
Interpretation of the Assessment Policy within IB DP Courses at Robinson Secondary School
Common philosophies among all subjects
We believe students must be regularly assessed and provided with meaningful feedback. Teachers regularly use common assessments among each subject team. Not only do teams develop these assessments which are informed by IB’s subject guides, team members meet on a regular basis to reflect on these assessments and inform their next teaching. We agree that we will utilize previous IB exams and markschemes, as well as question databanks, when available, to provide students with practical assessments. We agree that students must be assessed using the established IB rubrics. Teachers will scaffold assessments along the way so that students are given multiple opportunities to understand the expectations as well as build their skills in each criterion. Teachers also agree to allow students opportunities for revision and correction so that students may become more metacognitive in their work. Teachers agree that assessments should take a variety of forms to include solving problems together as a group, working collaboratively on writing and its revision, presenting orally individually and in groups, working in pairs on long-term projects, completing practice IB assessments, in addition to other modes of assessment in line with IB curriculum expectations. Informal feedback is given to students on a daily basis to include in-class conversations between students and the teacher, written feedback on assignments, and intervention and remediation conversations after class. Students are reminded of the academic honesty policy prior to all major assessments and teachers begin each year by highlighting the policy within their course overviews so as to ensure academic integrity from all students. Students are graded on progress, process and participation. Teachers provide students with more skills-based assignments rather than multiple choice assessments to build skills as well as thoughtful consideration of content knowledge. Teachers agree that all subjects involve assessment of clearly articulated arguments and evidence. All teachers support the development of mother-tongue language in their assessments by encouraging and developing skills in persuasive and effective communication. All teachers agree to adhere to the school’s special needs policy and the special needs of our students in terms of assessment deadlines and expectations. Teachers will do so by differentiating expectations and assignments and scaffolding the work in a manageable way for students that will still allow for the students’ success.
Teachers agree to grant the same weight to assessments by teams, after having discussed the goals and the purposes of that individual quarter and group of assignments. Teachers agree to meet to normalize expectations by grading sample work from students, both prior to larger writing assessments as well as prior to Internal Assessment submissions. For example, this year prior to the submission of Topics Internal Assessments, our History of the Americas and Topics in 20th Century World History teams (8 teachers total) met and normalized their scoring expectations and then split the student submissions up at random and graded and provided feedback to a small group of students. Teachers have shared that this experience was one of the most fruitful discussions they have had as a vertical team of teachers. Teachers agree to combine both formative and summative assessments in determining students’ grades, as well as to provide meaningful feedback on all graded work in an effort to encourage students to learn from the assessment, not just to learn for the assessment. When teachers introduce work to students, teachers agree to communicate clear expectations about the assessment and agree to discuss how to complete the work with academic integrity as per the school’s academic honesty policy.
Teachers are required by our county to have a minimum number of grades for each quarter. We spend a lot of class time scaffolding the internal assessment for students, and agree that not only will internally and externally assessed work be submitted to IB, but that we will award grades for successful completion of the work itself, and for sections and parts along the way. Teachers also understand that IB rubrics are end-of-course rubrics. With that in mind, subject teams of teachers have developed and revisited each year (when markschemes are released) a sliding scale of the rubric so as to accurately and fairly assess students at the beginning of the diploma programme, as well as towards the end. For instance, an ‘A’ individual oral presentation at the end of the course would require much higher points than a practice oral assessment done after reading the first novel.
Recording and Reporting
Teachers regularly report student progress to both students and parents. Teachers utilize an online system of recording grades. Teachers send grade reports every two weeks as well as calculate quarter grades and halfway through each quarter compute interim grades. Beginning next year, parents will also have the ability to view teachers’ gradebooks at any time.
Teachers met prior to the beginning of school in cross-curricular groups to discuss homework; what their policies were, what common policies each teacher was willing to agree to. Teachers also discussed which questions they asked themselves before deciding whether or not to assess homework. As a result of these conversations, teachers determined that any homework students could finish in between classes should not be assessed. The head of school as well as the superintendent for our county has also decreed that students should not be engaged in more than one half-hour of homework per night per class. Teachers discussed what that would best look like in their courses.
Teachers who have textbooks with answers in the back ask students to complete a few problems for homework so that they can make sure they know how to complete the problems and are given completion grades for their work. Subject teachers also differentiate their homework by ability levels and provide different options for students as far as the number of items to complete or the skills which are being assessed. Teachers provide students with time in class to begin homework so that they can ask questions if they have misunderstandings. Teachers also provide further explanation and details using the Blackboard website. All students, teachers and parents have access to a homework site called Blackboard. Teachers regularly update the site with homework expectations, further explanation, assignment details and guidance as well. Teachers have also begun to utilize Google Docs to communicate assignments, create group collaborative working folders, and to assess students work in a more timely fashion.
Recognition of Other Programs Available at Robinson
Robinson Secondary School offers the IB Diploma Programme, is in the application candidacy phase of the IB Middle Years Programme, offers six AP courses (US History, US Government, Comparative Government, AB Calculus, BC Calculus, Statistics), and follows the Standards of Learning as dictated by the State of Virginia. Standards of Learning ask that minimum competency levels of particular subjects be met in order to graduate. Teachers in year one of the diploma programme who must meet these requirements in addition to the IB coursework are IB English Literature I (a reading and writing competency test) and IB History of the Americas (a US History Standards of Learning test). Teachers provide extensions to the IB curriculum in order to meet the standards-based instruction needs laid out by the state. The State of Virginia also requires that students enroll in four years of Social Studies: one US History course (need is satisfied by the History of the Americas course with extensions), one Government course and two World History courses (one of which is satisfied by the diploma programme year two options of Topics in 20th Century World History HL or IB Geography SL). In order to provide students with an opportunity to fulfill these requirements and meet the requirements from IB, we allow our tenth grade students (the year prior to the first diploma year) to enroll in an AP Comparative Government course. The Comparative Government course allows students a segue to the rigor of the IB programme and also allows the students to satisfy the state requirement to enroll in a Government course, while at the same time, studying governments from around the world, a more global perspective of government.