During a recent conversation with some teachers at my daughter’s school, the subject of students on IEPs and reporting came up and there was confusion around whether they should be assessed at grade level or at the grade level they are working at, because there’s a difference and each carries its own repercussions.
If we are to assess students on IEPs at grade level, this means that regardless of their effort the most likely outcome for them is to be marked as “emerging” on B.C.’s Proficiency Scale in all affected subject areas. Which could mean that depending on how many grade levels behind a student is in the affected subject area(s), there is a very real chance that throughout their learning journey they will only ever be marked as “emerging”. To take things a step further, this may mean that assignments given to them, even though scaffolded or differentiated, may still not be reflective of their true grade level, which could result in a student being given assignments that are too difficult for them.
On the other hand, if we assess the student at the grade level the student is working at, a teacher can give a grade other than “emerging”. For example, a grade 6 student who is at a grade 3 level in reading and writing can be given assignments reflective of where they are at learning-wise and can be assigned a grade of “proficient” at the third-grade level based on their efforts and understanding. While this way of thinking works well in the lower grades, it becomes trickier to implement when assessing high-school students for post-secondary education.
While I can understand the validity of both positions, it seems clearer guidance is needed for teachers and a better solution to resolving the problem of students on IEPs and reporting; as it stands, either a child may be consistently marked as “emerging” throughout their schooling or they may find themselves in grade 12 and working at a grade 10 level in affected subject areas without a clear path to catching up. Although I am unsure of the ideal solution to resolve this issue, what I do know is that in the best interest of students, it’s time for a discussion.
Check out a possible solution in our next article: Are Dual-Tracking Report Cards the Answer?