Growing Success – The Kindergarten Addendum

Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting in Ontario Schools

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2016


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Introduction

This document describes the policy for assessment, evaluation, and reporting for Kindergarten and relates it to the policy for Grades 1 to 12, as set out in Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting in Ontario Schools (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010). This document is designed as an addendum to Growing Success. The policy outlined in Growing Success – The Kindergarten Addendum will be implemented in Ontario schools starting in September 2016.

The assessment, evaluation, and reporting policy for Kindergarten aligns with the content, philosophy, and intent of The Kindergarten Program (2016), a play- and inquiry-based program designed to be developmentally appropriate for young children. Assessment is conducted concurrently with instruction and is an integral part of learning in Kindergarten. Assessment, evaluation, and reporting policy is based on a view of the young child as "competent, capable of complex thinking, curious, and rich in potential" and actively engaged in the assessment process (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2013, p. 7). The policy also recognizes that children enter Kindergarten at different stages of development and with diverse backgrounds and experiences, and that they will also leave Kindergarten demonstrating variations in growth and learning in relation to the expectations.

"Kindergarten can be considered as much a part of early child development as part of the education system. Ideally, early child development programs and the school system should be part of a continuum for children that extends from the early years through to adulthood. The brain develops in a seamless manner and what happens in the first years sets the base for later learning in the formal education system."

(McCain & Mustard, 1999, p. 15)
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Fundamental Principles of Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting

Policy

The seven fundamental principles that guide assessment, evaluation, and reporting in Ontario schools in Grades 1 to 12 also apply to Kindergarten. These principles promote the development of the child who is becoming autonomous, collaborative, and able to participate in assessment practices.

The Seven Fundamental Principles

To ensure that assessment, evaluation, and reporting are valid and reliable, and that they lead to the improvement of learning for all students, teachers use practices and procedures that:

  • are fair, transparent, and equitable for all students;
  • support all students, including those with special education needs, those who are learning the language of instruction (English or French), and those who are First Nation, Métis, or Inuit;
  • are carefully planned to relate to the curriculum expectations and learning goals and, as much as possible, to the interests, learning styles and preferences, needs, and experiences of all students;
  • are communicated clearly to students and parents at the beginning of the school year or course and at other appropriate points throughout the school year or course;
  • are ongoing, varied in nature, and administered over a period of time to provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate the full range of their learning;
  • provide ongoing descriptive feedback that is clear, specific, meaningful, and timely to support improved learning and achievement;
  • develop students' self-assessment skills to enable them to assess their own learning, set specific goals, and plan next steps for their learning.
From Growing Success (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010, p. 6)

Assessment, evaluation, and reporting, when conducted in accordance with these principles, can have a profound, positive impact not only on children's learning but also on their motivation to learn and their confidence in their ability to do so.

Context

The fundamental principles call for assessment that helps educators tailor instruction to suit children's individual needs (assessment for learning); provide feedback and apply strategies that support children in assessing their own learning, and so engage them in the learning process (assessment as learning); and evaluate children's growth in learning for reporting purposes (assessment of learning). To support assessment, evaluation, and reporting practices and procedures that meet these criteria, Kindergarten educators develop and maintain a collaborative, complementary, and reciprocal relationship with children and their families.

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Assessment for Learning and as Learning

Policy

Assessment is the process of gathering and interpreting information that accurately reflects the child's demonstration of learning in relation to the knowledge and skills outlined in the overall expectations of The Kindergarten Program (2016). The primary purpose of assessment is to improve learning and to help children become self-regulating, autonomous learners.

Educators engage in assessment for learning as they observe and document evidence of children's learning (through the process of "pedagogical documentation")1 and provide descriptive feedback to the children that is designed to help them move forward within their zone of proximal development. Educators engage in assessment as learning when they support children in setting individual goals, monitoring their own progress, determining next steps, and reflecting on their thinking and learning, to help them become confident, autonomous learners.

The child and the child's parents2 are encouraged to join the educators in supporting the learning of the child through assessment for and as learning.

Context

Strategies that educators use to support assessment for learning and as learning include the following:

"Noticing and Naming the Learning": The Link to Learning Goals and Success Criteria

As discussed in Chapter 4 of Growing Success, "Assessment for Learning and Assessment as Learning" (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010), teachers and students develop a common understanding of learning goals – what is being learned – and of success criteria – what successful attainment of the learning goals looks like (p. 33). In Kindergarten, educators and children also develop a shared understanding of what is being learned, of where the children are in their learning, and of where they are going next. The children come to understand what growth in their learning "looks like". "Noticing and naming the learning" is a strategy employed in Kindergarten that provides the link to more formal approaches in the use of learning goals and success criteria in the later grades.

As educators in Kindergarten interact with children in play and inquiry, provide descriptive feedback, and review documentation of the children's learning with them, they use "noticing and naming the learning" to articulate what the children are doing (e.g., "I see you've put down two blue blocks and one green block, then two blue ones and one green one again. We call that a pattern."). They introduce language that enables the children to describe their own learning. They make the children's thinking and learning "visible" to them. In Kindergarten, the strategy of "noticing and naming the learning" serves as a vehicle for sharing "learning goals" and "success criteria" with the children.

Educators draw on their knowledge of the expectations and conceptual understandings set out in the Kindergarten program document to articulate the broad learning goals – representing subsets or clusters of knowledge and skills – that they share with the children. In Kindergarten, learning goals are expressed in terms and language that children understand – for example, "I am learning about patterns". Learning goals articulated in this way enable children to think about and to begin to direct their own learning. Success criteria are expressed as the accomplishments that occur along the way – for example, "I can identify a pattern"; "I can describe a pattern". Together, learning goals and success criteria help to make what the children are learning "visible" to them, so they can focus their learning efforts, understand what comes next, and begin to make decisions about their learning.

"Noticing and naming the learning" in terms of learning goals and success criteria is a way in which educators can create a picture for children of what and how they are learning, and support them in moving forward, no matter what their developmental level. As the children participate in and reflect on a variety of learning experiences, they develop and deepen their understanding of what their learning looks like and what their next steps in learning might be. With educator support, children begin to participate in "noticing and naming the learning" and so contribute to their own, and their peers', learning.

Eliciting Information about Children's Learning

Educators elicit information about children's learning by collecting evidence of it through observations, conversations, and demonstrations of learning. Documenting the evidence of learning is the most important aspect of assessment in Kindergarten and is, indeed, an integral part of all assessment approaches. When educators review and reflect on the documentation with the children, they have opportunities to name and co-construct the learning with them. As the documentation accumulates over time and educators and children reflect on it daily, children begin to internalize the learning and apply it in other contexts. Educators analyse the documentation to determine the growth of the child's learning in relation to the knowledge and skills identified in the overall expectations set out in The Kindergarten Program (2016).

Providing Descriptive Feedback

Educators provide children with descriptive feedback that helps them understand what they are learning and provides guidance about where they can go next in their learning. The more frequently children participate in "noticing and naming the learning" and experience descriptive feedback, the more opportunities they have to demonstrate growth in learning. The feedback encourages and helps children to progress in their learning. It also helps them learn the language and skills of assessment and develop the ability to assess their own learning and that of their peers.

Developing Children's Self-Assessment and Peer-Assessment Skills

When learning is co-constructed through the ideas and interests of the children, the children are more likely to become engaged in and take ownership of their learning. One way in which children can participate is by contributing to their own assessments through their reflections on the documentation. Children can also identify where and how their own learning and the learning of their peers align with the learning goals. With scaffolded support from educators, children can begin to reflect on their own and their peers' learning and monitor their progress towards their individual learning goals.

Developing Individual Goal-Setting Skills

Young children are learning to become independent learners. Educators facilitate the development of children's self-assessment skills by providing support and then gradually releasing responsibility to the children, within their zone of proximal development. With this kind of support, children learn to identify for themselves what they need to do to further their own learning.

By "noticing and naming the learning", providing guidance through descriptive feedback, and supporting the development of self-assessment skills, educators enable Kindergarten children to begin their development as autonomous, self-regulating, lifelong learners.

Developing Self-Regulation Skills

The Kindergarten program focuses on the development of children's self-regulation skills. The ability to self-regulate is critical to children's capacity to learn and to reflect on and assess their own learning. The complex processes of self-regulation are fundamental to the development of the learning skills and work habits that support student learning in Grades 1 through 12, such as the ability to devise and follow a plan, to manage time, to set individual goals and monitor progress towards them, and to be aware of individual strengths, needs, and interests. In Kindergarten, self-regulation skills are integrated in and assessed as part of the learning expectations.

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Evaluation

Policy

Evaluation involves the judging and interpreting of evidence of learning to determine children's growth and learning in relation to the overall expectations outlined in The Kindergarten Program (2016). The overall expectations are connected with the following four frames: Belonging and Contributing; Self-Regulation and Well-Being; Demonstrating Literacy and Mathematics Behaviours; and Problem Solving and Innovating.

The overall expectations are broad in nature, while the specific expectations define the particular content or scope of the knowledge and skills referred to in the overall expectations. Children's growth and learning in relation to the overall expectations within each frame are evaluated on the basis of specific expectations associated with the overall expectations. All expectations must be accounted for in instruction and assessment. 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.

Evidence of Growth in Learning for Evaluation

Evidence of growth in learning for evaluation is collected over time using pedagogical documentation. It is expected that multiple sources of evidence will be used in order to increase the reliability and validity of the evaluation of learning.

Context

Evaluation in Kindergarten is the summarizing of evidence of a child's learning in relation to the overall expectations at a given point in time, in order to specify a child's key learning, growth in learning, and next steps in learning. It is the culmination of the process of analysing and interpreting collected evidence of learning, whereby educators regularly and systematically examine their anecdotal observations, notes and jottings, and other documentation; photos and videos; samples of the child's work; information shared by the family; and other types of evidence, and ask the questions, "What is the most significant learning demonstrated by this child at this time? How does it link to the overall expectations within this frame? What does it tell me about the growth in learning of this child?" Through analysis and interpretation of a child's learning, educators gain greater insight into the child's relationships, interactions, understanding of concepts, learning styles, dispositions, and interests, as well as into the role of cultural context in the child's learning. With this insight, educators are able to judge each child's key learning, growth in learning, and next steps in learning at given points in time.

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Communicating Information about Children's Learning

Policy

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. Communication about learning should be designed to provide detailed information that will support children in their learning, help educators to establish plans for learning, and assist parents in supporting learning at home. 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 children's learning and to strengthen home-school relationships.

Three formal written reports will be provided during the school year. Beginning in the 2016–17 school year, the following new templates will be used by educators in all publicly funded schools in Ontario, in each of years 1 and 2 in Kindergarten, to formally report findings from their assessment and evaluation of the child's learning:

  • The Kindergarten Communication of Learning: Initial Observations will be issued at the end of the first reporting period, between October 20 and November 20.
  • The Kindergarten Communication of Learning: Initial Observations is intended to provide parents with an overview of initial observations of their child's learning and early evidence of growth in learning in relation to the overall expectations in The Kindergarten Program (2016) and with information about appropriate next steps to further the child's learning.

  • The Kindergarten Communication of Learning will be issued at two points in the school year:
    • at the end of the second reporting period, between January 20 and February 20, reflecting the child's growth in learning since September; and
    • at the end of the third reporting period, towards the end of June, reflecting the child's growth in learning since January/February.

    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. 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.

It is important to the child's development to engage parents in the child's learning early in the school year and to support them throughout the year in helping their child with next steps in learning.

It is expected that teachers and early childhood educators will collaborate in observing, monitoring, and assessing the development of the children in Kindergarten and in communicating with families, and that the teacher will ensure that the appropriate Kindergarten Communication of Learning templates are fully and properly completed and processed.

Context

The Kindergarten Communication of Learning: Initial Observations template and the Kindergarten Communication of Learning template are designed to ensure that the parents of all children attending publicly funded elementary schools in Ontario receive clear, detailed, and straightforward information about the child's learning and growth in learning in relation to the overall expectations in The Kindergarten Program (2016).

When writing anecdotal comments, educators should focus on what children have learned, describe significant strengths, recognize children's growth, and identify possible next steps for learning. Educators should use language that parents will understand. In Kindergarten, it is very appropriate to use examples of learning from pedagogical documentation to provide evidence of the child's learning in a play environment. These rich examples can be the starting point for discussion with parents about the child's learning as it relates to the Kindergarten program expectations.

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Kindergarten Communication of Learning Template Requirements

Versions of the Templates

Both the Kindergarten Communication of Learning: Initial Observations template and the Kindergarten Communication of Learning template are provided in two versions, one for use in public schools and one for use in Roman Catholic schools. The templates for Roman Catholic schools include a section called "Religious and Family Life Education".

Boards will use the appropriate version of the templates, which are shown in the appendix to this document. No changes of any kind should be made to the templates.

Completing the Templates

At the end of each reporting period, educators will use the appropriate template to communicate information about the child's learning in three categories: Key Learning, Growth in Learning, and Next Steps in Learning. These terms are defined as follows:

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. It is appropriate for educators to include their perceptions about the child's interests and learning preferences in their descriptions of key learning.

Growth in Learning refers to positive developments in learning that the child has demonstrated over the reporting period, in relation to the overall expectations. Developmental stage, learning trajectory, and/or other individual processes of learning should be taken into account when evaluating and describing growth in learning.

Next Steps in Learning refers to ways in which the child can move forward in developing knowledge and skills, in relation to the overall expectations, both at school and at home. Developmental stage, learning trajectory, and/or other individual processes of learning should be taken into account when determining next steps in learning.

For the Initial Observations report, educators will provide an overview of the child's key learning and growth in learning during the fall of the school year, along with information about next steps in learning. This overview will serve as the basis for discussion with parents and as a support for parents' ongoing participation in their child's learning.

In the Kindergarten Communication of Learning reports, issued at the end of the second and third reporting periods, educators will provide clear descriptions, including anecdotal comments, about the child's learning and growth in relation to the overall expectations in each of the four frames. Again, parents' participation in their child's next steps in learning should be encouraged and supported.

In all reports, comments about the child's learning should be entered using a font that is clear, in a size that is easy to read. Once completed, each Communication of Learning report should be printed on letter-size (8.5 by 11 in.) paper. The paper used to produce the documents must be suitable for long-term storage, as set out in section 3.2.1.3 of The Ontario Student Record (OSR): Guideline (2000).

The Kindergarten Communication of Learning template includes a tear-off section for the parent's comments and the parent's 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. All reports must be signed by the principal or the principal's representative (usually the vice-principal). A rubber stamp or facsimile of the signature must not be used.

Children with Special Education Needs

(See Chapter 7 of Growing Success for a detailed discussion of various aspects of assessment and evaluation for students with special education needs.)

IEP with Accommodations Only

If the child's IEP requires only accommodations to support learning, educators will not check the "IEP" box. Key learning, growth in learning, and next steps in learning are based on the expectations in The Kindergarten Program (2016).

IEP with Modified Expectations

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."

IEP with Alternative Learning Expectations

Where a 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."

English Language Learners

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.

Educators will not check the "ESL" box to indicate only:

  • that the child is an English language learner; or
  • that accommodations have been provided to support learning.

The Ontario Student Record (OSR)

Kindergarten Communication of Learning: Initial Observations and Kindergarten Communication of Learning reports (all pages), and/or exact copies of these reports, will be placed in the child's Ontario Student Record (OSR) folder following each reporting period.

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Appendix: Kindergarten Communication of Learning Templates

The four templates depicted in this appendix are as follows:

  • Kindergarten Communication of Learning: Initial Observations – Public Schools
  • Kindergarten Communication of Learning: Initial Observations – Roman Catholic Schools
  • Kindergarten Communication of Learning – Public Schools
  • Kindergarten Communication of Learning – Roman Catholic Schools


Kindergarten Communication of Learning: Initial Observations – Public Schools

Images show form 3044E, Kindergarten Communication of Learning, Initial Observations for Public Schools

[ An illustration of the template (Form 3044E) that schools are required to complete, which includes basic information about the student, the teacher, the early childhood educator(s), and the school and school board.  Space is provided for educators' comments about student learning, focusing on Key Learning, Growth in Learning, and Next Steps in Learning. ]

Show/hide transcript of information for parents provided on this form


Kindergarten Communication of Learning: Initial Observations – Roman Catholic Schools

Images show form 3045E, Kindergarten Communication of Learning, Initial Observations for Roman Catholic Schools

[ An illustration of the template (Form 3045E) that schools are required to complete, which includes basic information about the student, the teacher, the early childhood educator(s), and the school and school board. Space is provided for educators' comments about student learning, focusing on Key Learning, Growth in Learning, and Next Steps in Learning. ]

Show/hide transcript of information for parents provided on this form


Kindergarten Communication of Learning – Public Schools

Images show form 3046E, Kindergarten Communication of Learning, Public Schools

[ An illustration of the template (Form 3046E) that schools are required to complete, which includes basic information about the student, the teacher, the early childhood educator(s), and the school and school board, and also the child's placement in September (Kindergarten Year 2 or Grade 1). Space is provided for educators' comments about student learning, focusing on Key Learning, Growth in Learning, and Next Steps in Learning, in each of the four frames. A tear-off portion, to be returned to the school, calls for the parent's/guardian's comments to complete these prompts: "I notice that my child has shown growth in the following areas: ..." and "I will help my child to: ...". A box is provided for parents/guardians to acknowledge receipt of this Communication, along with another one that allows them to select the option, "I would like to discuss this Communication. Please contact me". ]

Show/hide transcript of information for parents provided on this form


Kindergarten Communication of Learning – Roman Catholic Schools

Images show Kindergarten Communication of Learning – Roman Catholic Schools (Form 3047E)

[ An illustration of the template (Form 3047E) that schools are required to complete, which includes basic information about the student, the teacher, the early childhood educator(s), and the school and school board, and also the child's placement in September (Kindergarten Year 2 or Grade 1). Space is provided for educators' comments about student learning, focusing on Key Learning, Growth in Learning, and Next Steps in Learning, in each of the four frames. A tear-off portion, to be returned to the school, calls for the parent's/guardian's comments to complete these prompts: "I notice that my child has shown growth in the following areas: ..." and "I will help my child to: ...".  A box is provided for parents/guardians to acknowledge receipt of this Communication, along with another one that allows them to select the option, "I would like to discuss this Communication. Please contact me". ]

Show/hide transcript of information for parents provided on this form

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References

McCain, M.N., & Mustard, J.F. (1999). Reversing the real brain drain: Early years study, final report. Toronto: Ontario Children's Secretariat.

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2010). Growing success: Assessment, evaluation, and reporting in Ontario schools. First edition, covering Grades 1 to 12. Toronto: Author.

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2013). Ontario early years policy framework. Toronto: Author.

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2016, forthcoming). The Kindergarten program (2016). Toronto: Author.

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Notes

1. The process of pedagogical documentation, discussed in detail in The Kindergarten Program (2016), involves ongoing gathering, documentation, and analysis, in collaboration with the child and parents, of a wide range of evidence of the child's thinking and learning (in the form of observation notes, photographs, videos, and products created by the child) in order to support and extend the child's learning on the basis of insight into that child's particular stage of development and ways of thinking and learning.

2. The word parents is used in this document to refer to parent(s) and guardian(s). It may also be taken to include caregivers or close family members who are responsible for raising the child.


ISBN 978-1-4606-7659-2

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