Collaborative Inquiry Project – Grades 1-12

Gathering Valid and Reliable Evidence to Determine a Grade - Triangulation


Project Overview
Educators in this project conducted collaborative inquiry to investigate the big question:
How can we gather valid and reliable evidence of learning to inform our professional judgement to determine a grade?   They developed specific, focussed inquiry questions related to the Theory of Action and are sharing the results of their ongoing professional learning on this site.

Project Theory of Action
If we:

  • Plan and gather the information in a way that is triangulated and collected over time
  • Design rich tasks that are meaningful and aligned with the learning goals and success criteria
  • Take steps to ensure that students are partners in assessment
  • Reflect deeply on that evidence
  • Use the evidence to inform our professional judgements about student learning

Then we can accurately and effectively communicate information about the learning (including determine a grade).

Board-Developed Inquiry Question Board-Developed Inquiry Question

How can we accurately gather and record information about student learning through strategic conversations and observations?

- York Region District School Board

Reflecting on the Learning Reflecting on the Learning

“Previously I was not teaching students how to have learning conversations and I realized that was something I needed to do. It was necessary to co-create criteria for conversations with students, to give time to practice, so that when I was evaluating their conversations they knew precisely what I was looking for from a thinking, questioning, and content context.”

“It's not enough to simply assume students know how to talk to one another.“

“Students need help with questioning techniques, grouping their thoughts, sharing informally, and the ability to see conversations as a place to get new knowledge.”
Evidence Evidence
We … entered a discussion around what strategic opportunities already existed within a classroom context for gathering observational and conversational data. By the end of the project we came to understand conversational and observational evidence of student achievement in three distinct ways:
  • Evidence collected during the learning through informal conversations: student to student, and/or teacher to student. Sometimes revealing a deeper understanding of the learning goal.
  • Evidence collected in a more formal strategic manner through teacher observation of student learning and conversation with students (i.e. during feedback)
  • Evidence collected in a completely formal manner where there are strategic opportunities to gather the evidence at check points in the learning:
    • as students are conferencing with one another
    • during Book Clubs
    • as students are conferencing with the teacher
Key Learnings Key Learnings
Participants …began to form judgements about students' abilities to engage in learning conversations and recognized the need to explicitly teach the skills and content necessary to make meaningful observations of student learning.

It was necessary to go back to the curriculum to make sure that what we thought we were measuring was actually what we were measuring. This lead us to the question 'does the method we are using to measure the learning match up with the learning goal?'

Teachers realized that to use observations to inform a grade at the end of a learning period it is crucially important to make sure that the students have the appropriate skills. Students need to be taught the necessary skills for oral communication. In a nutshell, you cannot assess what you have not taught.