- What is the Ministry’s expectation of boards with regard to communication with parents/families of Kindergarten Children?
|As per Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum (2016), “Communication with parents about a child’s learning should be ongoing throughout the school year, and should include a variety of formal and informal means, ranging from formal written reports to informal notes, conversations and discussions”. (page 12)
Communication about a child’s learning should provide detailed information about key learning, growth in learning and next steps that will support children in their learning, and assist parents in supporting learning at home. It is important to the child’s development to engage parents in the child’s learning early in the school year, in order to support both children and their parents throughout the school year.
Module Three of the Key Features of Growing Success and Kindergarten Assessment e-Module series summarizes this information about communicating with families.
Boards are encouraged to develop processes for communication throughout the year, such as planned classroom visits and child-led conferences focused on the child’s portfolio, to support parents’ participation in their child’s learning.” (page 12)On December 20,, 2016, in response to ongoing input the Ministry of Education released a Memorandum informing boards that the transition to the Communication of Learning Templates would not be required until the June 2017 reporting period. If a determination is made by boards to begin using the Communication of Learning Templates in June, it is the expectation that parents of all children in Kindergarten will receive communication about their child’s learning in accordance with existing board practices and timelines for the Winter 2017 reporting period.
- Why is the Ministry introducing a new Kindergarten report?
|With the introduction of the revised Kindergarten Program (2016) document, it is important to provide a provincial policy that:
- supports the assessment, evaluation, and reporting of children’s learning
- aligns with the content, philosophy, and intent of the program.
The Kindergarten Communication of Learning process supports the pedagogical approaches of the play- and inquiry-based program, especially the view of children, families and educators as “competent and capable, curious and rich in experience…” (page 10, The Kindergarten Program 2016).
- What supports have been provided and/or will be provided by the Ministry of Education for educator teams, administrators and families?
|The Ontario Ministry of Education recognizes the importance of providing resources for educator teams, administrators and families as The Kindergarten Program (2016) and Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum (2016) move forward. These resources can be found online:
• e-modules to unpack Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum - “Key Features of Growing Success and Kindergarten Assessment”
• an Educator Guide (DRAFT) to support the completion of the Communication of Learning templates
• A series of videos demonstrating assessment for, as and of learning with young learners, including kindergarten students (viewing guides to follow)
• Materials from the Fall 2016 regional professional learning sessions
• Professional Learning Opportunities - Fall 2016: Eight learning modules to support the implementation of the Kindergarten program. The eighth module is devoted specifically to communicating information about children’s learning using the Communication of Learning template.
• Principal tip sheets (DRAFT) to support principals’ instructional leadership practice related to The Kindergarten Program, the Kindergarten Addendum and the Communication of Learning
• a parent guide to help families understand their child’s Communication of Learning report (Coming Soon)
• other support materials (Coming Soon)
- What expectations are reported on through the Kindergarten Program Communication of Learning Process?
|Educators communicate evidence of key learning, growth in learning and next steps in learning in relation to the overall expectations of The Kindergarten Program (2016).
- What place/purpose do the specific expectations have in service of the overall expectations?
|The specific expectations (SEs) describe in greater detail the knowledge and skills related to the overall expectations. Educators use their professional judgement to determine which specific expectations will be used to evaluate growth and learning in relation to the overall expectations within each frame, and which ones will be accounted for in instruction and assessment but not necessarily evaluated. (Page 10)
- How can educators share concerns they may have about a child’s progress, on the Communication of Learning report?
|The Kindergarten Program (2016) acknowledges that young children grow and develop at different rates; children enter the Kindergarten program at different stages of development and with diverse backgrounds and experiences – and they will leave it at different stages and at different points in their growth in relation to the program expectations (page 43). When developing comments, educators should communicate their observations of key learning and growth in learning, and identify next steps in learning, in relation to the overall expectations of The Kindergarten Program.
- How does the information gathered from leveled assessment tools (e.g., Prime, PM Benchmarks, etc.) contribute to assessment for learning and/or to the Communication for Learning?
|Information from diagnostic assessment may help educators determine where individual children are in their development of knowledge and skills, so that instruction can be personalized and tailored to provide the appropriate next steps for learning. (PPM 155) As such, the information from diagnostic assessment tools is generally used for ‘assessment for learning’ rather than for evaluation and reporting.
- What is the role of the educators (teachers and ECEs) in communicating information about children’s learning?
|All educators work together, as part of the educator team, to plan and implement the program and to maintain a healthy physical, emotional, and social learning environment. All educators contribute to the observation, monitoring and assessment of each child’s learning, that is, the process of communicating information about learning.
- Are Early Childhood Educators included on the Communication of Learning template?
|Yes. Space is provided on the templates for the name of the Early Childhood Educator(s). This space recognises their contribution to the observation, monitoring and assessment of each child’s learning that is reflected in the Kindergarten communication of learning process.
- How do educators share concerns about a child’s learning while still remaining asset-based in their comments?
|The primary purpose of assessment is to improve learning and help children become self-regulating, autonomous learners. (Growing Success- The Kindergarten Addendum, page 6)Educators recognize that children should “be given ample time to demonstrate their learning through varied learning opportunities that are appropriate for their stage of development and within their zone of proximal development.” (The Kindergarten Program, page 43)
Comments on the Communication of Learning report that describe challenges in relation to the overall expectations can focus on what children have learned, recognize children’s growth and include possible next steps for learning in language that parents will understand. The ongoing communication with parents that educators are encouraged to establish early in the school year (Growing Success – The Kindergarten Addendum, page 13) further supports the comments in the communication of learning report.
A draft Educator’s Guide includes sample comments that may serve as a useful reference in helping educators to frame their comments.
- What is the role of the educator who provides planning time/preparation coverage in the preparation of the Communication of Learning?
|Planning time/preparation coverage teachers are members of the collaborative educator team and would be included with the classroom teacher and ECEs in the local processes to work together to assess key learning, share observations of student growth in learning, and share other relevant observations.
- What is the role of parents and families in the Communication of Learning?
|Ongoing, reciprocal communication between children, parents and educators is essential to support children’s learning. Parents are vital partners in their children’s education.
The Communication of Learning is meant to facilitate an ongoing dialogue between families and educators. This dialogue will ensure that educators and parents are working towards the same goals.Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum (2016) reminds us that "Educators should discuss next steps in the child's learning with the parents to inform them of their plans for supporting the child's new learning at school and to assist them in supporting their child's learning at home." (page 13)
The Kindergarten Communication of Learning template includes a tear-off section for parent comments and acknowledgement of receipt of the report and/or a request to discuss the child’s report with the educators. This section is to be returned to the child’s school.
A parent guide is being developed and will be published on the EDU website in the coming months.
- How have our union and federation partners been involved in the development of The Kindergarten Program 2016, Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum (2016), and the Communication of Learning Templates?
|Representatives from unions and federations have been part of the feedback and consultation process throughout the development of The Kindergarten Program 2016, Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum (2016), and the Communication of Learning Templates.
In addition, representatives from unions and federations have been invited to take part in all regional training and capacity-building sessions that have been offered by the Ministry since the inception of full-day Kindergarten in 2010.
Representatives of federations and unions, as well as principal, supervisory officer and board associations were part of the Kindergarten Implementation Working Group (KIWG). This working group provided input to the Minister of Education around communicating children’s learning to parents, professional learning for educator teams, effective implementation of new documents, and resources to support educators, administrators and parents.
On December 20, 2016 in response to ongoing input from a variety of stakeholders including teacher unions and federations, the Ministry of Education released a Memorandum informing boards that the transition to the Communication of Learning Templates was not required until the June 2017 reporting period.
- Do we have to report on math and literacy every reporting period?
|Growing Success - the Kindergarten Addendum states, "Educators will use their professional judgement, supported by information provided in The Kindergarten Program, to determine which specific expectations will be used to evaluate growth and learning in relation to the overall expectations within each frame, and which ones will be accounted for in instruction and assessment but not necessarily evaluated." (page 10)
Growing Success - the Kindergarten Addendum also states that, "Communication with parents about a child's learning should be ongoing throughout the school year and should include a variety of formal and informal means, ranging from formal written reports to informal notes, conversations, and discussions." (page 12)
Educators have the opportunity to provide a comprehensive picture of a child's learning related to demonstrating literacy and mathematics behaviours during the reporting period without relying solely on the Communication of Learning, which is only one piece of the communication process in Kindergarten. For example, using professional judgment, a teacher may wish to report on growth and next steps in mathematical behaviours, and a key learning in literacy behaviours. A teacher might also decide, using professional judgment, that for a particular reporting period, for example, comments will focus on mathematical behaviours. Information about learning related to literacy behaviours may have already been communicated to parents by other means during the reporting period.
- Some expectations appear in more than one frame. How do educators determine where in the Communication of Learning to report on these expectations?
|An expectation is associated with the frame that encompasses the aspects of learning and development to which that expectation most closely relates. An expectation that addresses more than one aspect of learning may be connected with more than one frame.
When reviewing the pedagogical documentation, educators examine the evidence of key learning or growth in learning that has been demonstrated by the child, determine which frame best aligns with that evidence, and then report growth in learning in that frame.
- What is “parent-friendly language”?
|When completing the Communication of Learning reports, educators use plain language that describes key learning, growth in learning and next steps in learning. Comments should be written in a clear manner, free of technical terms that parents may not be familiar with.
Sample comments are included in the draft Educator’s Guide.
- Will there be a guide for educators to go with the new Communication of Learning reports?
- When is it necessary to place a check in the IEP or ESL box on the Communication of Learning document?
|As per Growing Success – The Kindergarten Addendum, “If the expectations in the IEP are based on but vary from the expectations of the regular program, educators must check the “IEP” box for the frame and include the following statement: “Program expectations have been modified to meet the needs of the child.” (page 15)
Where the child’s IEP identifies alternative learning expectations, the educator must check the “IEP” box for the frame and must include the following statement: “Key learning, growth in learning, and next steps in learning are based on alternative learning expectations in the IEP.” (page 16)
Regarding English Language Learners, Growing Success - the Kindergarten Addendum states, “When a child’s learning and growth in learning are based on expectations modified from the expectations in The Kindergarten Program (2016) to support English language learning needs, educators will check the “ESL” box for the frame.” (page 16)
A Kindergarten student who might need modifications as an English language learner would be quite rare; however, if the educators have documented that with accommodations a child is not demonstrating growth, then modifications might be necessary.
- How do we write next steps in the June Communication of Learning?
|A next step in learning is defined as a way in which a child can move forward in developing knowledge and skills, in relation to the overall expectations, both at school and at home. (Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum, page 14)
A next step is focused on a child’s learning and provides suggestions that would be appropriate for home and school, and that meet the child at an appropriate developmental level. Next steps focus on learning, not on an activity. Educators use their knowledge of the child, The Kindergarten Program, and conversations with the family when determining next steps.
A sample next step comment in June might look like this:
To continue developing his understanding of how writing works, we encourage Ryan to write about areas of interest to him, and to write for different purposes, such as writing rules for games he invents, creating signs, making lists, and sending notes to others.
- There is no place for “learning skills” on the Communication of Learning templates. How will we communicate these?
|Learning skills are integrated into the program through the four frames, particularly within the frames of Belonging and Contributing and Self-Regulation and Well-Being. The expectations encompassing learning skills are assessed and communicated in a holistic way as part of the personalized description of the child’s learning journey.
- What is the specific definition of Key Learning?
|As per Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum, “Key Learning refers to the most important or significant skills and/or understandings (knowledge) that the child has demonstrated during the reporting period, in relation to the overall expectations of The Kindergarten Program. It is appropriate for educators to include their perceptions about the child’s interests and learning preferences in their descriptions of key learning.”(page 14)
As educators reflect upon and analyze their documentation of the thinking and learning of the child, they gain greater insight which enables them to judge that child’s key learning in relation to the overall expectations at a given point in time. (Growing Success – The Kindergarten Addendum, page 11)
- Are comment banks appropriate in the Communication of Learning in Kindergarten?
|Comments are reflective of the individual learner and their learning. Because the Kindergarten Communication of Learning is meant to be a description of a child’s learning journey within the context of relationships, a comment bank may be of limited use. Growing Success – The Kindergarten Addendum states that, “The Kindergarten Communication of Learning is intended to provide parents with descriptions, written in plain language and including anecdotal comments, about their child’s strengths and growth in relation to the overall expectations within each frame of The Kindergarten Program.” (page 13)
The draft Educator’s Guide, linked here, includes sample comments that may serve as a useful reference in helping educators to frame their comments, as these samples demonstrate how educators can touch on multiple overall and their related specific expectations when composing a descriptive paragraph about the learner. The sample comments also reflect the integration of anecdotal evidence and the child’s voice in determining key learning and growth in learning for the child.
- Do we have to include ‘next steps’ in every frame?
|Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum states that a child’s key learning and growth in learning in relation to the overall expectations in each of the four frames must be described clearly in the Communication of Learning reports (page 15).
The policy further states that, “Educators should discuss next steps in the child’s learning with the parents to inform them of their plans for supporting the child’s new learning at school and to assist them in supporting their child’s learning at home” (page 13) and that “parents’ participation in their child’s next steps in learning should be encouraged and supported.” (page 15)
Educators may use their professional judgement within the context of their relationship with the child and family to determine in which frames next steps are included.
- Sample comments for “Next Steps” use the pronoun “we”. What does “we” suggest and what is expected?
|In the sample comments found in the Guide for Educators the inclusive pronoun “we” is used to include families and educators. It reflects the idea that next steps are part of an ongoing reciprocal conversation between the educators and the parents that supports the learning of the child in all of their contexts.
Using ‘we’ may also reinforce that the classroom is a learning community where educators and learners support each other’s learning as they notice and name the learning that occurs.