Student Engagement, Assessment, & Interpreting Reports During Online Learning

One of the central challenges during this period of online teaching and learning has been in trying to strike the right balance between maintaining standards and expectations for students with regards to their engagement with classroom learning, and being mindful that this has been a difficult time for all of us, mentally and emotionally if not also physically, and for many students and families those difficulties have been particularly acute. We do want our students to know that their teachers will continue to hold them accountable, because they continue to care about their education. We also want families to know, however, that we want all members of our community to feel supported through this experience, and that we are well aware that what may be a reasonable expectation in one context could feel overwhelming in another. Please be sure to be in touch with your son’s teachers, tutor, Head of House or myself if you or your son is feeling overwhelmed now or at any stage during the term.

On that note I did also want to write a bit about reports and interpreting these in context. In determining grades teachers assess student work against the achievement standards established by ACARA in Years 4 – 10, and by the BSSS in Years 11 and 12. The standards themselves haven’t changed due to the lockdown, even if teaching online has made it more difficult than ever to know where the students are at in their learning. Schools have been recently advised that we do have some discretion as to whether or not reporting grades at the end of the year is achievable and appropriate. While this is a telling acknowledgement of the challenge of these circumstances for teachers and students, we do intend to provide end-of-semester reports, as I think most schools will. We feel that students and their parents/carers will value that summation of how they are travelling this semester as much as any. In some cases, parents/carers might well anticipate that results this semester will not reflect their son’s true capabilities. While this may be understandable, it is nevertheless still an opportunity for reflection and productive discussion. All that being said, if you do have concerns about grades or grading this semester, please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss what will be the most beneficial approach for your given circumstance.

Kind regards,
Tim Bibbens
Assistant Principal Teaching and Learning