Aboriginal person. A person who is a descendant of the original inhabitants of North America. The Canadian Constitution (1982) recognizes three primary groups as Aboriginal peoples: Indians (First Nations), Métis, and Inuit.

accommodations. Special teaching and assessment strategies, human supports, and/or individualized equipment required to enable a student to learn and to demonstrate learning. The provincial curriculum expectations for the grade are not altered for a student receiving accommodations.

achievement chart. A standard, province-wide guide to be used by teachers to make judgements about student work based on clear performance standards.

achievement levels. Brief descriptions of four different degrees of student achievement of the provincial urriculum expectations for any given subject/discipline. Level 3 is the "provincial standard". Parents of students achieving at level 3 in a particular grade or course can be confident that their children will be prepared for work in the next grade or the next course. Level 1 identifies achievement that falls much below the provincial standard. Level 2 identifies chievement that approaches the standard. Level 4 identifies achievement that surpasses the standard.

adjudication for literacy graduation requirement. A process to provide certain students with an additional opportunity to meet the literacy graduation requirement. The process allows boards to establish adjudication panels.

adult student. A student who is eighteen years of age or older and has therefore reached the age of majority.

alternative course. A non-credit course in which the expectations are individualized for the student and generally focus on preparing the student for employment (supported or independent) and/or community living. Examples of alternative courses include Transit Training and Community Explorations (KCC), Culinary Skills (KHI), and Money Management and Personal Banking (KBB).

anchor chart. Chart that is co-created by teachers and students as a way to record thinking (e.g., about a text, problem or strategy) and make it visible for future reference and study. Anchor charts can also list procedures and processes for a particular activity (e.g., the stages of the writing process, the problem-solving process in mathematics). They help students clarify thinking, make connections and/or remember a specific skill, strategy or concept.

assessment. The process of gathering, from a variety of sources, information that accurately reflects how well a student is achieving the curriculum expectations in a subject or course.

assessment as learning. The process of developing and supporting student metacognition. Students are actively engaged in this assessment process: that is, they monitor their own learning; use assessment feedback from teacher, self, and peers to determine next steps; and set individual learning goals. Assessment as learning requires students to have a clear understanding of the learning goals and the success criteria. Assessment as learning focuses on the role of the student as the critical connector between assessment and learning. (Adapted from Western and Northern Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in Education, 2006, p. 41.)

assessment for learning. The ongoing process of gathering and interpreting evidence about student learning for the purpose of determining where students are in their learning, where they need to go, and how best to get there. The information gathered is used by teachers to provide feedback and adjust instruction and by students to focus their learning. Assessment for learning is a high-yield instructional strategy that takes place while the student is still learning and serves to promote learning. (Adapted from Assessment Reform Group, 2002.)

assessment methods. The three ways of gathering evidence of student learning based on the type of evidence being collected (i.e., written evidence, spoken evidence, or evidence of the student doing something). The three assessment methods are pencil and paper tasks, personal communication tasks, and performance tasks.

assessment of learning. The process of collecting and interpreting evidence for the purpose of summarizing learning at a given point in time, to make judgements about the quality of student learning on the basis of established criteria, and to assign a value to represent that quality. The information gathered may be used to communicate the student's achievement to parents, other teachers, students themselves, and others. It occurs at or near the end of a cycle of learning.

assessment strategies. Assessment strategies are what the teacher gives students to do in order to gather evidence of their learning. There are a wide variety of strategies (e.g., assignments, essays, demonstrations, projects, role plays, and tests). Choosing the appropriate strategy will assist the teacher in more accurately determining how well students are achieving the curriculum expectations.

assessment tools. Assessment tools are collecting/recording devices to assess student achievement. The more clearly the tools identify the criteria and performance indicators of what is expected, the more consistent the assessment and/or evaluation will be. Five commonly used assessment tools are marking scheme, anecdotal comments, checklist, rating scale, and rubric.

assignment for evaluation. An assignment for evaluation is used to evaluate student learning. Most assignments for evaluation are rich performance tasks, demonstrations, projects, or essays. Assignments for evaluation do not include ongoing homework that students do to practise skills, consolidate knowledge and skills, and/or prepare for the next class.

big ideas / key learnings / enduring understandings. Big ideas are the broad, important understandings that students should retain long after they have forgotten many of the details of something they have studied. Key learnings are the important knowledge and skills that have lasting value beyond the classroom and are transferable beyond the scope of a particular unit. Key learnings relate directly to the synthesis of curriculum expectations (overall and/or specific) within a course. Wiggins and McTighe (1998) suggest that an "enduring understanding" is more than simply "material worth covering." Enduring understandings are the ideas and concepts that reside at the heart of the discipline and have ongoing value beyond the classroom.

categories of knowledge and skills. Four broad areas of knowledge and skills within which subject/course expectations are organized. The categories are to be considered interrelated, reflecting the wholeness and interconnectedness of learning. The four categories are: (1) Knowledge and Understanding, (2) Thinking (Thinking and Investigation, for Science), (3) Communication,
and (4) Application.

check-bric. A simplified form of a rubric where only a singe descriptor at the top is given and teachers "check" a level for each criteria stated.

checkpoints. Critical points in the learning where assessment information needs to be gathered to ensure that students have achieved the knowledge and skills required to proceed successfully towards achievement of the overall expectations. At these points teachers:

  • use various appropriate assessment formats to provide evidence of learning;
  • use the assessment evidence as feedback for students and teachers, possibly for evaluation near or at the end of the learning period;
  • encourage students to self-assess.
collaborative inquiry. A systematic approach to learning characterized by people working together to : Identify a focus based on a perceived need; Develop a theory about how to address it based on evidence and research; Create and implement an action plan to test the theory; Examine and reflect on the results; Make necessary adjustments to the focus; And then repeat the cycle.

community involvement requirement. The requirement that each secondary school student must complete at least forty hours of community involvement in order to graduate. The requirement is intended to help students develop an awareness and understanding of civic responsibility.

compulsory credit. A credit earned for successful completion of a course that is a requirement for graduation. Students must earn a total of eighteen compulsory credits in order to obtain the Ontario Secondary School Diploma. Fifteen of the credits are similar for all students, while the additional three credits are chosen by the student, one credit for each of three distinct groupings of courses.

content standards. Standards that describe what students should know and be able to do. The content standards in the Ontario curriculum are the curriculum expectations identified for every subject and discipline, which describe the knowledge and skills that students are expected to develop and demonstrate in their class work, on tests, and in various other activities on which their achievement is assessed and evaluated.

contract. An agreement between a teacher and a student (or a group of students) on issues related to learning, assessment, and evaluation.

cooperative education. A program that allows students to earn secondary school credits while completing a work placement in the community. A cooperative education course must be based on a related course (or courses) from an Ontario curriculum policy document or on a ministry-approved locally developed course in which a student is enrolled or which the student has successfully completed. Cooperative education courses include a classroom component, comprising pre-placement and integration activities, and a placement component. Two cooperative education credits may count towards the eighteen compulsory credits required for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma. There is no limit to the number of cooperative education credits a student may count as optional credits.

credit. Recognition for the successful completion of a course for which a minimum of 110 hours has been scheduled. A credit is granted to a student by the principal of a secondary school on behalf of the Minister of Education.

credit recovery. A process to enable students who have failed a course to earn a credit for the course. Students who have completed a provincially approved course within the last two years and who received a failing grade for that course may be approved to recover the course through the credit recovery process. Students may recover credit only for the course taken and failed (and not, for example, for a course of a different type in the same subject and grade). Students who withdraw from a course are not eligible to recover it through the credit recovery process.

credit recovery learning plan. A plan for credit recovery, developed by the credit recovery teacher in consultation with the student, outlining instructional practice and content and addressing the individual student's needs and other matters such as attendance, workload expectations, identification of the course expectations and related units of study to be included in the program, description of the 30 per cent final evaluation, and final mark determination.

credit recovery team. A subset of the school's Student Success team, including the principal or designate, the Student Success teacher, and the guidance head (or designate). Other teachers and support staff may participate as required on the credit recovery team.

criterion-referenced assessment. Assessment that focuses on whether a student's performance meets a predetermined standard, level, or set of criteria rather than on the student's performance measured in relation to the performance of other students.

culminating activity. A complex activity that allows students to demonstrate achievement of curriculum learning expectations, using an authentic application. From: Standards-based Assessment: A Model.

culture. The way in which people live, think, and define themselves as a community.

curriculum expectations. The knowledge and skills that students are expected to develop and to demonstrate in their class work, on tests, and in various other activities on which their achievement is assessed and evaluated. Overall expectations describe in general terms the knowledge and skills that students are expected to demonstrate by the end of each grade/course. Specific expectations describe the expected knowledge and skills in greater detail.

descriptive feedback. Precise information provided to students by the teacher or peers (peer assessment). This information is specific to the students' achievement of learning goals, is based on the success criteria, and includes what students are doing well, what needs improvement, and what specific steps they can take to improve.

descriptors. Used to indicate the characteristic of the student's performance, with respect to a particular criterion, on which assessment or evaluation is focused. Descriptors help teachers to focus their assessment and evaluation on specific knowledge and skills for each category and criterion, and help students to better understand exactly what is being assessed and evaluated

design down (see also planning with the end in mind)
A planning process that begins by identifying:

  1. what students should know or be able to do (learning goals);
  2. what evidence students can use to demonstrate that knowledge and or those skills (success criteria);
  3. the instruction and assessment activities that are designed to facilitate students' meeting the learning goals.

diagnostic assessment. Assessment that is used to identify a student's needs and abilities and the student's readiness to acquire the knowledge and skills outlined in the curriculum expectations. Diagnostic assessment usually takes place at the start of a school year, term, semester, or teaching unit. It is a key tool used by teachers in planning instruction and setting appropriate learning goals.

differentiated instruction. An approach to instruction designed to maximize growth by considering the needs of each student at his or her current stage of development and offering that student a learning experience that responds to his or her individual needs. Differentiated instruction recognizes that equity of opportunity is not achieved through equal treatment and takes into account factors such as the student's readiness, interest, and learning preferences.

diversity. The presence of a wide range of human qualities and attributes within a group, organization, or society. The dimensions of diversity include, but are not limited to, ancestry, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, language, physical and intellectual ability, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status.

dual credit programs. Ministry-approved programs that allow students, while they are still in secondary school, to take college or apprenticeship courses that count towards both the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) and a college certificate, diploma, or degree or an apprenticeship certification. Dual credit programs are designed to help students focus on graduating from secondary school and on making a successful transition to apprenticeship training, college, university, or the workplace.

e-learning. Learning conducted by means of electronic media, especially the Internet, where the students and teachers are physically separated by distance.

Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO). An independent "arms-length" agency of the Ontario government that is responsible for designing, conducting, and reporting on curriculum-based large-scale assessments in publicly funded Ontario schools, including the annual assessments of Primary Division (Grades 1–3) and Junior Division (Grades 4–6) students in reading, writing, and mathematics; the annual assessment of Grade 9 students in mathematics (academic and applied); and the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test. The EQAO also manages Ontario's participation in national and international assessments and reports the results.

English as a second language (ESL) programs. Programs for students whose first language is a language other than English or a variety of English significantly different from that used for instruction in Ontario schools. Students in these programs have had educational opportunities to develop age-appropriate first-language literacy skills.

English language learners (ELL). Students in provincially funded English-language schools whose first language is a language other than English or a variety of English that is significantly different from that used for instruction in Ontario schools, and who require focused educational supports to assist them in attaining proficiency in English. These students may have been born in Canada or may be recently arrived from other countries.

English literacy development (ELD) programs. Programs for students whose first language is a language other than English or a variety of English significantly different from that used for instruction in Ontario schools. Students in these programs may be from countries in which their access to education has been limited, or they may have had limited opportunities to develop language and literacy skills in any language. Schooling in their countries of origin may have been inconsistent, disrupted, or even completely unavailable throughout the years that these children would otherwise have been in school. As a result, they arrive in Ontario schools with significant gaps in their education.

equity. A condition or state of fair, inclusive, and respectful treatment of all people. Equity does not mean that people are treated the same without regard for individual differences.

evaluation. The process of judging the quality of student learning on the basis of established criteria and assigning a value to represent that quality. Evaluation is based on assessments of learning that provide data on student achievement at strategic times throughout the grade/subject/course, often at the end of a period of learning.

First Nation. A term used to refer to any of the distinct cultural groups of Aboriginal peoples. The term came into common usage in the 1970s to replace the world "Indian" and is now used instead of the word "band" in the names of Aboriginal communities.

formative assessment. Assessment that takes place during instruction in order to provide direction for improvement for individual students and for adjustment to instructional programs for individual students and for a whole class. The information gathered is used for the specific purpose of helping students improve while they are still gaining knowledge and practising skills.

gradual release of responsibility. A high-yield instructional strategy that involves scaffolding instruction and providing appropriate amounts of support to students based on their needs. For example, the teacher first models a new strategy, then explicitly teaches and works with students. After that, the teacher coaches students as they attempt to complete tasks on their own. Finally, students work independently, with feedback from the teacher.

homework. Work that students do at home to practise skills, consolidate knowledge and skills, and/or prepare for the next class.

icebreaker. A stimulating and thought provoking activity that educates and entertains with the intent of leaving a permanent and long lasting impression while increasing communication and cohesiveness of the peoples involved.

Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC). A committee that decides whether or not a child should be identified as exceptional, identifies the areas of a student's exceptionality according to the categories and definitions of exceptionalities provided by the ministry, decides an appropriate placement for a student, and reviews the identification and placement at least once in each school year.

inclusive education. Education that is based on the principles of acceptance and inclusion of all students. Students see themselves reflected in their curriculum, their physical surroundings, and the broader environment, in which diversity is honoured and all individuals are respected.

Individual Education Plan (IEP). A written plan describing the special education program and/or services required by a particular student, including a record of the particular accommodations needed to help the student achieve his or her learning expectations. An IEP must be developed for a student who has been identified as exceptional by an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC), and may also be developed for a student who has special education needs but has not been identified as exceptional. An IEP is a working document that identifies learning expectations that may be modified from or alternative to the expectations given in the curriculum policy document for the appropriate grade and subject or course. It outlines the specific knowledge and skills to be assessed and evaluated for the purpose of reporting student achievement.

Inuit.  Aboriginal people of northern Canada, living mainly in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, northern Quebec, and Labrador. Inuit are not covered by the Indian Act.

Instructional Rounds.  Instructional Rounds is a network approach to improving teaching and learning developed at Harvard University by Elizabeth City, Richard Elmore, Sarah Fiarman and Lee Teitel and showcased in their book “Instructional Rounds in Education” (Elizabeth A. City, Richard F. Elmore, Sarah E. Fiarman, and Lee Teitel). This model was adapted by both the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board and the Ontario Ministry of Education to support their research on student learning.
Rounds is a process of bringing together teachers, principals and board leads in the development of a common focus of learning that supports high-quality instruction. It involves observation and analysis of classroom instruction and discusses next steps to support student learning in a classroom. This focus of learning is aligned with school and board improvement plans.

Iterative Process.  A process where the same procedure is repeated over and over again to obtain a desired result.


key question. A question that focuses students' thinking and learning on the big idea, key learning, enduring understanding, or overall expectations. Wiggins and McTighe (2005) describe "essential questions" as questions that "aim to stimulate thought, to provoke inquiry, and to spark more questions" (106).

knowledge-gain referencing. Using assessment information to determine if a student is making progress in his or her own learning. "Each student's entry point of knowledge is his or her unique point of reference. Each student's grade then, is based on how much he or she progresses beyond the initial level of knowledge or skill". (Marzano, 2000 p. 22)

large-scale assessments. One-time measures that take snapshots of the strengths and weaknesses of education systems. They contain standardized content and are administered and scored according to standardized procedures.

learner dispositions. Over time learners develop a set of similar response to most learning situations. "Learning dispositions can be construed as default responses in the presence of uncertain learning opportunities and circumstances".
 Claxton & Carr, 2004 p. 88

learning goals. Brief statements that describe for a student what he or she should know and be able to do by the end of a period of instruction (e.g., a lesson, series of lessons, or subtask). The goals represent subsets or clusters of knowledge and skills that the student must master to successfully achieve the overall curriculum expectations.

Learning Management System (LMS). In Ontario, the provincial Learning Management System supports the delivery of a growing number of online credit courses from Grades 9 to 12. This teacher-mediated system contains a wide range of collaborative and administrative tools such as chats, threaded discussions, blogs, whiteboards, quizzes, and student tracking.

learning skills and work habits. The skills and habits that can be demonstrated by a student across all subjects, courses, and grades and in other behaviour at school. These learning skills and work habits promote student achievement of the curriculum expectations. The six skills and habits are: responsibility, organization, independent work, collaboration, initiative, and self-regulation.

learning styles. Different ways of learning. For instance, visual learners need to see visual representations of concepts. Auditory learners learn best through verbal instructions and discussions, by talking things through, and by listening to what others have to say. Tactile (kinaesthetic) learners learn best through a hands-on approach, actively exploring the physical world around them.

levels of achievement – see achievement levels

literacy and numeracy strategy. A key initiative of the Ontario government designed to promote equity of outcomes for all elementary students and to support improvement in reading, writing, and mathematics, particularly in low-income or remote communities.

literacy graduation requirement. See secondary school literacy graduation requirement.

locally developed course. A ministry-authorized credit course developed by school boards, school authorities, and provincial schools and inspected private schools. A locally developed course can count as a compulsory or an optional credit towards the Ontario Secondary School Diploma. The ministry's authorization for such a course is valid for five years.

mature student. A student who is at least eighteen years of age on or before December 31 of the school year in which he or she registers in an Ontario secondary school program, who was not enrolled as a regular day school student for a period of at least one school year immediately preceding his or her registration in a secondary program, and who is enrolled in a secondary program for the purpose of obtaining an Ontario Secondary School Diploma. In this context a school year is defined as ten consecutive months.

median. The middle score, after all the scores have been ranked. The median is the score at which 50 per cent of students scored higher and 50 per cent scored lower.

metacognition. The process of thinking about one's own thought processes. Metacognitive skills include the ability to monitor one's own learning.

Métis. People of mixed First Nation and European ancestry. Métis history and culture draw on diverse ancestral origins, such as French, Irish, Scottish, Cree, and Ojibwa.

modifications. Changes made to the age-appropriate grade-level expectations for a subject or course in order to meet a student's learning needs. For students with an Individual Education Plan (IEP), these changes could include: expectations from a different grade level; significant changes (increase or decrease) in the number and/or complexity of the learning expectations; and measurable and observable performance tasks. At the secondary level, a credit may or may not be granted for a course, depending on the extent to which the expectations in the course have been modified. Grade-level expectations may also be modified to support the needs of English language learners.
At the secondary level, when modifications are made to support English language learning needs, the principal works collaboratively with the classroom teacher to determine the integrity of the credit.

norm-referenced assessment. The process of evaluating (and grading) the learning of students by judging (and ranking) them against the performance of their peers.

observation. The ongoing process of watching, listening, and being attuned to students' behaviour, emotional state, interests and abilities, patterns of development, and progress in learning in order to meet the needs of students and assess and evaluate their development and learning.

Ontario College of Teachers. A body established in 1997 to allow teachers to regulate and govern their own profession in the public interest. Teachers who want to work in publicly funded schools in Ontario must be certified to teach in the province and be members of the college.

Ontario Educational Resource Bank (OERB). A learning resource repository for Ontario teachers and students, managed by the Ministry of Education. The OERB offers thousands of online resources, from Kindergarten through Grade 12. It can be searched by key word and also by grade,
subject/course, strand, and/or overall expectations.

Ontario Secondary School Certificate (OSSC). The certificate of achievement awarded to students who leave school before earning the Ontario Secondary School Diploma, and who have earned a minimum of 14 credits (7 compulsory and 7 optional).

Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). The diploma awarded to students who have earned a minimum of 30 credits (18 compulsory and 12 optional) and who have also met the graduation requirements related to literacy and community involvement.

Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC). A course available, at the principal's discretion, to students who fail the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test or who meet other specified eligibility criteria. Mature students who have not yet attempted the test may enrol directly in the course. Students who pass this course are considered to have met the literacy graduation requirement.

Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT). The standard method for assessing the literacy skills of students for the purpose of determining whether they meet the Ontario secondary school literacy graduation requirement. The OSSLT is based on the expectations for reading and writing throughout the Ontario curriculum up to and including Grade 9.

Ontario Skills Passport (OSP). A web-based resource that provides clear descriptions of "Essential Skills" and "work habits" that are important for work, learning, and life. The Essential Skills are used in virtually all occupations and are transferable from school to work, job to job, and sector to sector. The work habits are important for everyone in the workforce. The OSP is designed to help teachers and employers assess and record the demonstration of these skills and work habits by students and job seekers.

Ontario Student Record (OSR). An ongoing record for each student who enrols in a school operated by a school board or by the ministry. The OSR is established upon the student's entry to school in Ontario and accompanies the student if the student moves to another school within the province.

Ontario Student Transcript (OST). An official record of the Ontario secondary school Grade 9 and 10 credit courses successfully completed by a student and of all Grade 11 and 12 credit courses completed or attempted by a student. The OST also includes confirmation of completion of other graduation requirements and requirements for specialized programs.

optional credits. A credit earned for successful completion of an optional course. Students must earn twelve optional credits in addition to the required eighteen compulsory credits to earn their Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). Students earn these credits by successfully completing courses selected from those listed as available in their school calendar.

Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP). A national large-scale assessment developed by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC). PCAP is administered every three years to assess the reading, mathematics, and science knowledge and skills of Grade 8 students.

pathways. Combinations of courses and learning experiences or programs leading to different postsecondary destinations. The five possible destinations are apprenticeship training, college, community living, university, and the workplace. All pathways are equally valid and are selected based on the strengths, interests, and future goals of each student.

peer assessment. Assessment of a student's work or learning processes by classmates.

performance standards. Standards that describe student achievement of the curriculum expectations, in relation to designated criteria, at several levels or degrees of achievement. The performance standards in the Ontario curriculum are outlined in the achievement chart that appears in the elementary and secondary curriculum document for every subject or discipline. The achievement chart describes four levels of achievement for four categories of knowledge and skills. The provincial standard is level 3. (See also provincial standard.)

plagiarism. The use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another without attribution, in order to represent them as one's own original work.

planning with the end in mind (see also design-down). A planning process to design an activity, lesson, unit or course. It begins by determining the desired end result (i.e., curriculum expectations, Achievement Chart categories) and identifying the evidence (i.e., criteria, performance indicators, assessment strategies and tools) necessary to determine that the results have been achieved.

portfolio. A collection of samples of student work that the student, with teacher support, carefully selects and adds to on an ongoing basis to track what the student has learned throughout the year. Both teachers and students assess the work in portfolios. Because students are asked to actively reflect on their learning in order to choose the samples that will go into the portfolio, a portfolio is an especially powerful self-assessment tool.

prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR). A formal evaluation and credit-granting process whereby students may obtain credits for prior learning. The process involves two components: challenge and equivalency. There are two different PLAR processes: one for regular day school students and one for mature students. Each has slightly different requirements.

professional judgement. Judgement that is informed by professional knowledge of curriculum expectations, context, evidence of learning, methods of instruction and assessment, and the criteria and standards that indicate success in student learning. In professional practice, judgement involves a purposeful and systematic thinking process that evolves in terms of accuracy and insight with ongoing reflection and self-correction.

Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). A large-scale international assessment developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that reports every three years on the reading literacy, mathematical literacy, and scientific literacy of fifteen-year-old students.

Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). A large-scale international assessment conducted every five years by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement to assess the reading achievement of students in Grade 4.

provincial large-scale assessments. Standardized assessments developed and administered annually by the Education Quality and Accountability Office. Assessments include reading, writing, and mathematics in the Primary Division (Grades 1–3) and Junior Division (Grades 4–6); mathematics in Grade 9; and the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test.

provincial standard. Achievement of the expectations in a subject/course at level 3, as described in the achievement chart for the subject/discipline. Parents and teachers of students achieving at level 3 can be confident that their children will be prepared for work in subsequent grades/courses.

qualifier. Used in the achievement chart with a descriptor to describe student performance at each of the four levels of achievement.

regular day school student. A student who is enrolled in a regular day school program. A student enrolled only in continuing education, e-learning, and/or distance learning is not considered a regular day school student.

reliability. The degree to which an assessment or evaluation is consistent and stable in measuring what it is intended to measure. An assessment or evaluation is considered reliable when the same results occur regardless of when or where the assessment or evaluation occurs or who does the scoring.

rich performance task. An authentic activity, exercise, problem, or challenge that requires students to show what they know and what they can do. Performance tasks lead students to demonstrate their understanding by applying knowledge and skills to real-life situations or scenarios. Performance tasks usually address all four categories of the achievement chart and multiple overall curriculum expectations and provide flexibility in how students can demonstrate their learning.

rubric. A scale that uses brief statements based on the criteria provided in the achievement chart and expressed in language meaningful to students to describe the levels of achievement of a process, product, or performance.

scaffolding. An instructional approach that involves breaking down tasks so that students can concentrate on specific, manageable objectives and gradually build understanding and skill, with the aid of modelling by the teacher and ample opportunity for practice. Scaffolding provides students with a supportive structure within which to learn.

school improvement plan. A "road map" that sets out the changes a school needs to make to improve the level of student achievement, and how and when these changes will be made.

school year. The period between September 1 and June 30. It must include a minimum of 194 school days.

secondary school literacy graduation requirement. One of the requirements students must meet in order to earn an Ontario Secondary School Diploma. The Ontario secondary school literacy graduation requirement is based on expectations for reading and writing outlined in the Ontario curriculum up to and including Grade 9. The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test is the standard means for determining whether students meet this requirement.

self-reflection. Students thinking about their own learning and evaluating and revising the material before submitting or presenting their work.

special education program. As defined in the Education Act, "an educational program for an exceptional pupil that is based on and modified by the results of continuous assessment and evaluation, and that includes a plan containing specific objectives and an outline of educational services that meet the needs of the exceptional pupil".

special education services. As defined in the Education Act, "facilities and resources, including support personnel and equipment, necessary for developing and implementing a special education program".

Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM). A ministry-approved specialized program that allows students to focus their learning on a specific economic sector while meeting the requirements for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) and that assists in their transition from secondary school to apprenticeship training, college, university, or the workplace. Every SHSM must include a bundle of credits, sector-recognized certifications, and/or training; experiential learning activities within the sector; "reach ahead" experiences connected with the student's chosen postsecondary pathway; and development of Essential Skills and work habits using the Ontario Skills Passport (OSP).

standardized test. A type of test commonly used to provide valid, reliable, and unbiased information about students' knowledge in various areas. The same questions are used and the same directions are given for each group to whom the test is administered. Specific time limits are set, and each student's performance may be compared with that of all other students taking the same test.

strands. Broad curriculum areas within a subject or course (e.g., in Language at the elementary level and in compulsory English courses at the secondary level, there are four strands: Oral Communication; Reading [elementary] / Reading and Literature Studies [secondary]; Writing; and Media Literacy [elementary] / Media Studies [secondary]).

student-led conference. A student-parent conference that engages the student in direct communication with the parents through the use of portfolios illustrating the student's achievement and learning. Students take the lead in walking their parents through a selection of accomplishments and demonstrations of their work. Student-led conferences bring students to the centre of classroom assessment.

student self-assessment. The process by which a student, with the ongoing support of the teacher, learns to recognize, describe, and apply success criteria related to particular learning goals and then use the information to monitor his or her own progress towards achieving the learning goals, make adjustments in learning approaches, and set individual goals for learning.

Student Success programs. Ministry-funded initiatives to provide targeted support to students in Grades 7 to 12 to ensure that every student can have a good outcome from his or her education. The key goals of the programs are to ensure that all students have the knowledge and skills required to succeed in school and beyond, to provide students with relevant learning opportunities that build on their strengths and interests, and to provide students with the supports needed for successful transitions.

Student Success strategy. An initiative of the Ministry of Education designed to give educators, parents, employers, college and university partners, students, and others the tools to create an engaging school experience for students in Grades 7 to 12. The focus is on providing: (1) more high-quality course options inside and outside the classroom, and (2) more individual support when students need extra help.

Student Success teacher. A teacher who has the responsibility to support students who are at risk of not graduating. The Student Success teacher works with the principal, guidance counsellors, and special education teachers to ensure the alignment of supports and services for these students. Boards are required to ensure that there is a Student Success teacher in each secondary school.

Student Success team. A team of teachers who have the responsibility for developing school procedures and models for the effective delivery of all Student Success initiatives. The team must include, at a minimum, a principal or designate, the Student Success teacher, a guidance counsellor, and a special education teacher.

student-teacher conference. A teacher's planned dialogue with an individual student about the student's learning. Conferences offer teachers opportunities to get to know their students' strengths and the challenges they face in relation to specific learning strands or expectations, to monitor their progress, and to plan future instruction based on identified needs and interests. students with special education needs. Students who have been formally identified as requiring special education supports and services by an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC), as well as students who are not identified but who have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and are receiving special education programs and services.

success criteria. Standards or specific descriptions of successful attainment of learning goals developed by teachers on the basis of criteria in the achievement chart, and discussed and agreed upon in collaboration with students, that are used to determine to what degree a learning goal has been achieved. Criteria describe what success "looks like", and allow the teacher and student to gather information about the quality of student learning.

students with special education needs.  Students who have been formally identified as requiring special education supports and services by an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC), as well as students who are not identified but who have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and are receiving special education programs and services.

summative assessment. Evaluation that occurs at the end of important segments of student learning. It is used to summarize and communicate what students know and can do with respect to curriculum expectations.

teacher moderation. A process for ensuring that the assessment of student learning and the results of assessment and evaluation are comparable across classes and/or schools. In teacher moderation, teachers examine student work together to share beliefs and practices, enhance their understanding, compare their interpretations of student results, and confirm their judgements about a student's level of achievement. Teachers might also look at the assignment that was given and analyse its effectiveness in relation to the learning achieved by the students.

team building exercises Various interventions designed to increase the extent to which a work group functions as a team; that is, as a cohesive, united, emotionally bonded group in which individual inputs (skills, effort, personal characteristics) are combined to maximum effect in pursuit of the common goal.

think-pair-share (variations: read-pair-share or write-pair-share). Provides students with the opportunity to process their thoughts and to check their ideas with a partner. Students are then more likely to feel comfortable sharing their ideas with a larger group. The teacher asks students to:

  • think for a moment (or read a piece of text, or write about an idea or concept);
  • in pairs discuss their thinking, reading, or writing with a partner and determine what to share with a larger group;
  • share ideas or responses with a larger group.

Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). An international, large-scale assessment conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement at various grade levels, including Grades 4 and 8, to determine the effectiveness of the teaching and learning of mathematics and science.

triangulate. Making assessments or evaluations based on the compilation of evidence of student learning collected over time using a variety of different methods, which include conversations, observations, or student products (also referred to as what students say, do, or write).


validity. The degree to which an assessment or evaluation actually measures what it claims to measure and the extent to which inferences, conclusions, and decisions made on the basis of the results are appropriate and meaningful.

writing process. Involves generating ideas, developing and organizing the ideas, and revising and editing them. Effective writers cycle through these stages until they are satisfied that the writing achieves its purpose.
From: Think Literacy: Cross-curricular Approaches, Grades 7 – 12