Listening to Students, Consulting With Colleagues, Led to Learning Map Assessment Approach


Listening to Students, Consulting With Colleagues, Led to Learning Map Assessment Approach

As a young educator teaching junior and senior high in the mid 70s, Kathleen Gregory began on a journey that transformed the way she thought about student assessment.

“I had never really been taught how to assess, other than multiple choice testing,” recalls Kathleen, who has been an educator for more than 30 years and most recently is a consultant working with teachers in a variety of schools in British Columbia. “Very early on, comments I heard from students made me begin to question how I was evaluating their learning,” she adds.
Once, one of Kathleen’s students contested his D in Math at the end of the term saying that at the beginning of the year he just “didn’t get it” but that he did now. Indeed, when she reviewed his performance on early quizzes and tests the student had failing grades, but more recently was doing extremely well. Unfortunately, the practice then of averaging test scores for the final letter grade did not reflect this success.

There was another student who performed poorly on tests, but based on Kathleen’s observations and interactions with her, clearly knew the subject content. The more Kathleen got to know her students and see their progress, the more she could tell that the way she was arriving at letter grades did not always align with what she knew about a student’s achievements.
Around the same time, I began to follow new research and studies coming out regarding different approaches to assessment and I met a very insightful and truly inspiring colleague working in this area named Caren Cameron,” states Kathleen. “She and I collaborated to explore ways to better assess student achievement.” This combination of change in perspective, talking with colleagues, as well as having a supportive school administration allowed Kathleen to hone a new approach. Eventually the concept of the Learning Map evolved along with its straightforward five-step process.

The Learning Map
The Learning Map began as a way to try to align learning standards (and letter grades) with descriptions of performance that are then aligned with evidence of student learning. “The model has gone through a number of changes,” explains Kathleen, “but started off as large sheets of paper where we worked out specific descriptions of what students would be under- standing and doing in relation to the ‘big ideas” (learning standards).

Further Evolution
At first, Kathleen and her colleagues developed the Learning Map for their own use, but as they grew more confident in the tool and its process, they began to share it with students and their parents. This fit well with the advance of a student-centred learning approach. Using the Learning Map allowed students to understand what learning they needed to do and what was behind the letter grade. It allowed for deeper and more helpful conversations beyond, “How many more points do I need to get an A?”

The Birth Of Quio
After writing the book Rethinking Letter Grades” with co-author Caren Cameron, Kathleen began to think about creating an electronic Learning Map that would make it easier for teachers to use. Discussing the idea with the book’s publisher Catherine Gerbasi led to the birth of QUIO.
“I suggested building a map,” states Kathleen, “and she proposed building an app, which was an exciting idea and made complete sense in the context of the 21 century learning environment we now inhabit.”

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