IB Assessment Policy

1 Philosophy and Principles

1.1 Philosophy

Mattlidens Gymnasium believes that the primary function of all assessment at our school is to support student learning and development. Effective assessment not only affords students the opportunity to increase their knowledge and understanding of the subject, but also affords all stakeholders, particularly the students themselves, important insights into students’ current stage of development and the direction that their future development might take. As such, students are encouraged to participate in self-assessment and peer-assessment, as well as more traditional assessment from the teacher.

1.2 Principles

To include how Mattlidens Gymnasium (MG) pertains to the requirements of the IB & the Finnish system.

At MG assessment:
● monitors student progress;
● provides useful feedback for students, parents and external institutions (Universities), and;
● informs curricula review.

At MG it is acknowledged that students:
● have individual learning styles;
● have different backgrounds, expectations and therefore needs;
● need to know their strengths and weaknesses as a result of the learning process, and;
● need to receive positive, constructive feedback.

Also, throughout the teaching and learning process, assessment should:
● account for different individual learning styles;
● be differentiated to account for student diversity;
● provide a wide variety of different assessment techniques;
● be criteria-related, using agreed assessment objectives that have been made explicit to students;
● measure what students understand;
● be both formative and summative;
● be continuous and reflective;
● allow students to evaluate their progress and set themselves targets for improvement;
● allow the school to evaluate student success;
● be internally standardised (moderated) to ensure parity horizontally and vertically, and;
● assist appraisal of the broad cross-curricula skill and knowledge base required in the globalised 21st Century.

2 Assessment Practices

2.1 Formative Assessment

Interpreted as: ‘on-going’ assessment that facilitates students in forming their understanding, skills and knowledge.

Whilst there is a distinct difference between formative and summative assessment, and the purposes of each form of assessment may be different, there are many similarities regarding the methods by which they may be implemented. Consequently, the following section (2.1.1) includes points relative to both forms of assessment.

2.1.1 Grading / marking

1. All assessment at MG is criterion-based, with each subject having its own criteria, as depicted by the IB Diploma course.
2. Grading uses the IB system (1-7) for all grades, as opposed to the Finnish system (4-10).
3. Formative assessment culture is ‘continuous’, utilising both written work and classroom pedagogical practices for teachers to elucidate students’ progress. Additionally, the following examples are used by teachers:
● ‘pop’ quizzes
● students-based presentations
● short-term homework (generally due ‘next lesson’)
● mid-term homework (an assignment, with the deadline determined by the subject teacher
● long-term assignments (more likely comprising Internal Assessment (IA) or practice IA assignments, with deadlines determined by the subject teacher in conjunction with the IB Coordinator).
4. A wide range of assessment activities may therefore be used for various purposes. Teachers will inform students which criteria will be used in the assessment of their work; explaining what is required to fulfill each criterion.
5. IA is formative by nature, so students receive feedback to aid their learning. Some IA, by nature, is summative, as it comprises an assessed component of a DP subject; but students should still receive formative feedback on this work to enhance their lifelong learning, and so they know how they have done.
6. In each assessment activity, students must be capable of accessing the full range of achievement descriptors (e.g grades 1-7). This may require that assessment material be adapted for IB1 students who have not yet covered the full course.
7. Feedback to students must be prompt. This may be ‘immediate’ in the form of response to a ‘pop quiz’, up to two weeks for written feedback on classroom assignments, or longer in the case of written feedback on IA scripts.
8. All grading is awarded based on clear assessment criteria. Teachers may award grades based on a wide range of evidence (not necessarily just written papers), and as such may be able to consider a number of alternative answers. Subsequently, a mark scheme may not necessarily need to be considered exhaustive.
9. The use of criterion-based assessment means that students’ work is considered in relation to how it ‘best fits’ the stated criteria. The criterion descriptors used are usually those published by the IB (or adapted from them). If a student’s work falls between stated descriptors, a teacher must consider which descriptor the work is closest to and award the grade accordingly.
10. Teachers will use IB published mark schemes where appropriate, however some forms of assessment may necessitate the adaptation of the published schemes to make them fit for purpose. Teachers will consult subject guides, mark schemes and Examiners Reports (via the OCC) for current grade boundaries and assessment criteria.
11. If a teacher suspects that academic honesty has been breached, the teacher should not award a grade, but refer to the school’s academic Honesty Policy for further guidance.

2.1.2 Recording & reporting

1. All teachers record outcomes of formative assessment in the format most appropriate to their subject; this may be more frequent (based on short-term homework exercises for example), or less frequent (based on essay work for example).
2. All teachers are required to report at certain junctures throughout the year, this reporting is based on a combination of formative and summative assessment:
● At the end of each ‘period’ (every eight weeks), reports are compiled to monitor student performance. Each student will be awarded a letter ‘grade’, which indicates the level of work during that particular term. This allows students, teachers, the IB Coordinator and guardians to monitor general progress throughout the year, and flags up problem areas early on (refer to Mattlidens Gymnasium Study Guide, Course Grading, Assessment and Tests section). The letters are:
○ Excellent performance/results
○ Satisfactory performance/results
○ Alarming performance/results - there is cause for concern
○ Failing performance results (e.g. missing assignments, absent from test,
excessive absences from lessons)
● At the end of each term (Autumn and Spring), official reports are compiled (refer to Mattlidens Gymnasium Study Guide, as above), where each subject is graded on the 1-7 scale (see section 2.2.3).

2.1.3 Homework

Homework is issued as a matter of course in order to consolidates students’ understanding; it is expected by the students. Due to the diverse nature of the different subjects, the format of the homework varies accordingly (see 2.1.1).

2.1.4 Facilitating assessment

1. MG’s expectations of the student (what the teacher can expect from the student)
● Be punctual to class and bring all the necessary equipment.
● Respect the rights of others in the class to ensure a constructive and collaborative learning environment.
● Respect deadlines, ensuring that all work is prepared and submitted on time in accordance to instructions given (i.e. is a paper copy required and an electronic copy).
● Present work clearly and appropriately, use of IT can facilitate this, but final examinations are still currently hand-written.

2. MG’s expectations of the teacher (what the student can expect from the teacher)
● Clear identification of the requirements for each piece of work that is set, including the assessment criteria to be used.
● Provision of sufficient time for the student to complete the work to the best of their ability, bearing in mind the demands of other DP subjects and time constraints levied by the IB.
● Provision of access to any materials necessary for the completion of the task set.
● Assess work appropriately and promptly.
● Teachers are considered as approachable facilitators of learning, for students to use to aid them in their progress.

3. MG’s expectations of the parents
MG urges guardians to be supportive of their child’s education, without compromising the authenticity of their work i.e. not doing the work for them. Support can be provided by:
● providing a quiet space at home for the completion of work;
● providing access to a computer with internet access;
● providing an electronic device with internet or WiFi access that can be used in school (students are increasingly required to use their device in the classroom situation, a smartphone is usually sufficient);
● attending parents’ meetings at the school, and;
● keeping open three-way communication with the school and the student.

2.2 Summative Assessment

Interpreted as: ‘terminal’ assessment that establishes students’ understanding, skills and knowledge.

Note: as mentioned, many of the points stated throughout section 2.1 also pertain to summative assessment.

2.2.1 Grading / marking

1. Teachers mark and grade via key assignments (essays, written tasks, lab reports) and testing at natural ‘end-points’; for example, when a topic has been completed. These grades contribute towards the reporting (see 2.2.3).
2. At the end of IB1, students sit End of Year (EoY) examinations, which provides summative assessment data on their IB1 year. Students have to “pass” these exams in order to progress into IB2, along with other criteria. This requires that the students revise the work from the IB1 year, helping them to consolidate their learning. Also, it allows teachers to assess students’ overall progress, making sure that they are ‘on-track’ and not likely to fail the Diploma. The criteria for progression into IB2 are (taken from the Mattlidens Gymnasium Study Guide):

Conditions for promotion of IB1 students to IB2

1. The student has passed all subjects when assessed after each period and thus has completed all assignments given during the year and does not have frequent absences in any subject course
2. The student has completed the IB1 courses with at least 24 points and meets the diploma requirements regarding HL and SL subjects.
3. The student has kept an updated CAS-diary (ManageBac) with at least 75 hours of CAS activities properly recorded in it.
4. student has attended all EE sessions arranged and submitted a well thought-out and realistic plan for the Extended Essay research work, and has discussed with the EE supervisor the guidelines for research work to be completed during the summer break.

In certain cases a student who, for an acceptable reason, fails to fulfil the above requirements by the end of the school year may still gain access to IB2 by doing extra work during the summer. Permission for this must be obtained from the coordinator. Details of extra work must be agreed with the respective subject teacher. The quality of the work will be examined before the start of the next academic year. If there still is uncompleted work in the beginning of the following academic year the student will not be allowed to start in IB2 and/or be registered for the diploma.

3. Written assignments provide summative data (essays, written tasks, lab reports, Extended Essay), so when the final version of a document has been submitted, it can be assessed and a final grade awarded to indicate student progress at that point. Additionally, such assignments provide formative assessment as they provide teachers and students with feedback which may be of value in subsequent tasks.

2.2.2 Internal and External Assessment

1. Some written assignments are compulsory “Internal Assessment” (IA); this is work that is demanded by the IB Diploma programme as part of the course and comprises a component (often 20%) of the final grade. This work is set by the teacher in line with IB guidelines and graded internally by the teacher. A sample of the IA graded by the teacher is sent to the IB for moderation to ensure that the teacher has awarded grades fairly, in accordance with the assessment criteria. Consequently, IA grades awarded by the teacher are their interpretation of the criteria, so grades may be subject to change as a result of the moderation process.
2. “External Assessment” refers to final examinations. These are the terminal examinations completed at the end of IB2. Students complete the examinations under strict conditions as depicted by the IB. The examination papers are sent to the IB to be marked and graded by external examiners. Teachers do not grade these examination papers, indeed are not allowed to see the examination papers until 24 hours after completion of their subject examination (teachers never see their students’ completed examination papers).

2.2.3 Recording & reporting

Students receive report cards at the end of the Autumn and Spring terms. The grades awarded by teachers reflect the results of formative and summative assessment throughout the term, but additionally take into consideration the students’ ‘attitude’. Grades are awarded according to the following criteria (taken from the Mattlidens Gymnasium Study Guide):

The school reports, all term reports and the final report, reflect on how the student has worked during his/her time in Mattlidens. These grades are not the same as the IB Diploma results or the Predicted grades (given roughly a month before the final examinations). The school grades are based on the following criteria.

1. How much knowledge and understanding did the student demonstrate (in tests, assignments and classroom discussion)?
2. How much effort did the student put in (both inside and outside the classroom)

 7  Excellent

Demonstrated excellent knowledge and understanding

• Attended regularly and punctually
• Completed all assignments on time and to the best of their ability
• Was active and conscientious in their approach to the subject

 6  Very Good

 Demonstrated very good knowledge and understanding

• Attended regularly and punctually
• Completed most assignments on time and to the best of their ability
• Was mostly active and conscientious in their approach to the subject

 5  Good

 Demonstrated good knowledge and understanding

• Attendance was generally regular and punctual
• Completed most assignments on time
• Was generally active and conscientious

 4  Satisfactory

 Demonstrated adequate knowledge and understanding

• Attendance was generally regular and punctual
• Completed some assignments on time
• Was fairly active and conscientious

 3  Needs improvement

 Demonstrated some knowledge and understanding

  • Attendance was occasionally regular and punctual

  • Completed few assignments

  • Was rarely active and conscientious

 2  Unsatisfactory

 Demonstrated little knowledge and understanding

  • Attendance was poor

  • Completed few or no assignments

  • Little effort in class

 1  Unsatisfactory

 Demonstrated no knowledge or understanding

  • Sporadic attendance

  • Completed no assignments

  • No effort in class

  

IB predicted grades: these are awarded in April of IB2, and are primarily for internal and IB use. These are the grades that the teacher predicts the student will attain in the final examinations. They are required by the IB and primarily submitted in case the scenario arises
whereby a student performs excessively higher or lower than predicted; in which case the IB will re-check the examination papers to ensure a mistake has not been made on their behalf.

University predicted grades: these may need to be provided for certain universities that student wish to apply to in IB2. This is particularly the case with applicants to the UK, through the UCAS system. In this case, applications have to be made by mid-October for early entry,
otherwise by mid-January. As part of the application process, universities require teachers to submit a predicted grade for each subject. The grade predicted is primarily based on the progress made in IB1, taking into account that students are likely to improve somewhat for their final examinations.

2.2.4 Homework

Most IA assignments require some at-home studies in order for them to be completed to a high quality. Consequently, homework may take the form of completing draft or final documents that comprise part of the IA process. This type of homework is also formative, as it informs the student as well as the teacher about their progress, although final documents form more of a summative assessment purpose (depending on the nature of the subject). A calendar (part of the student planner) exists for the purpose of making key summative
assessment dates explicit to all stakeholders. Subsequently, the students’ workload is better managed, and all teachers know when important deadlines for summative assessment are.

3 Assessment Policy in relation to other documentation

3.1 In relation to Language Policy

● English is the language of instruction and hence communication in the IB for all subjects other than languages (Groups 1 and 2). It follows that English is the language of assessment for all subjects other than languages.
● Whilst students may inevitably lapse into informal discussion in their mother tongue, teacher instruction and class discussion in English ensures inclusiveness for all members of a class. Maintaining instruction in English keeps consistency which also aids the student in their assessment activities.
● There is a philosophy that all teachers are language teachers, whether it be an A or B language or the subject-specific vocabulary that students must familiarise themselves with.
● Teachers can and should comment on the quality and accuracy of language in course assignments, but are not allowed to edit work submitted for assessment (e.g. IA and EE).

3.2 In relation to Admissions Policy

● The majority of students commencing their IB studies at Mattlidens Gymnasium enter IB1 (Grade 11) upon successful completion of their Pre-DP year (Grade 10). So the Admissions Policy is pertinent to the admission of students to Pre-DP. As the Admissions Policy states, there is a specific system in place for admission to Pre-DP, taking into account several pieces of assessment. These are the weighted grade point averages (GPAs) from the lower secondary school and the results of the entrance examinations.
● To ‘graduate’ from Pre-DP and commence IB1, Pre-DP students must complete their Pre-DP year (Grade 10) satisfactorily. This entails passing at least 28 courses (a course being one subject studied for 8 weeks), not failing any courses taken, and it is recommended that students score an average of grade 7 (4-10 scale) in subjects to be taken at SL and grade 8 (4-10 scale) in subjects to be taken at HL refer to the Mattlidens Gymnasium Study Guide).
● Almost every year some students join IB1 (Grade 11) directly, not completing the Pre-DP year at Mattlidens Gymnasium. For this minority, they are considered on a case-by-case basis: consideration of school reports, teacher recommendation and student motivation
are taken into account (as stated in the Admissions Policy).

4 Assessment Policy roles and responsibilities

4.1 Implementing

All teachers are required to implement the assessment policy. As part of their pedagogical training it is expected that teachers will understand the importance of assessment for both formative and summative purposes. Teachers, naturally, want to assess as it is a means to establish consolidation of learning.

In order that teachers implement this policy, efforts have been made to involve the teaching body in its writing. After initial writing of the document by a small group of teachers, the document is reviewed annually (see section 4.3) to ensure it is still fit-for-purpose. As such,
teachers get an allocated time-slot to engage with the document and ensure they understand its contents, as well as having the opportunity to suggest alterations to it.

This Assessment Policy, as all policies, is expected to be a ‘living document’, to be referred to as required, and regularly. As part of the evaluation process (see section 4.2), teachers are asked to consider their implementation of the policy and evaluate its effectiveness, especially regarding sections that are not working for them.

4.2 Evaluating

The evaluation process is part of the reviewing process (see 4.3), in that it informs the review. Policy review, theoretically, is ongoing, for all policies. In practice, time needs to be allocated for teachers to focus on the evaluation of documentation (policies). Meeting time is dedicated to the formal evaluation of the assessment policy, whereby cross-curricula groups of teachers are formed to discuss and evaluate the policy before providing suggestions for review (see 4.3). Additionally, teachers are invited to individually evaluate and provide feedback on policies if there is a cause for concern or for teachers who feel their voice is not being heard in the meeting scenario.

4.3 Reviewing

The Assessment Policy is reviewed annually by all IB teachers. A specific time-slot is devoted to this in the annual planning meeting at the beginning of the school year (mid-August). This entails time provided to re-read the existing document, followed by discussion in small crosscurricula groups, and feedback to the DPC. A follow-up Steering Group meeting discusses the viability of proposed changes to the document, and subsequent revisions are made to the document by the end of the first teaching period (end of September). The new document is then ‘published’ and time allocated at an IB meeting for teachers to read the amendments to the new document. ‘Publishing’ the document means making it available to all stakeholders via the school website.

4.4 Training

All members of staff get the opportunity to become acquainted with the Assessment Policy at the meetings stated in 4.3. If new members of staff start at the beginning of the academic year, they will be part of these meetings, so will be included in the process. If new members of staff arrive during the school year, they are told where to gain access to the documents (via the school website) and expected to read them. These staff members will then be included in subsequent rounds of evaluation and review (as depicted in 4.2 and 4.3). The situation with cover staff, who may only be covering for odd days, is that they need to implement the teacher’s instructions for the classes they are covering. The instructing teacher will be conversant with the Assessment Policy, so direction must be taken from the class teacher under these circumstances. Additionally, the class teacher is still responsible for the assessment of their class, even if someone else is implementing some of the assessment strategies. It is unrealistic to expect short-term cover staff to read, comprehend and act upon all the school’s documentation for such a short period of time.

References

Guidelines for developing a school assessment policy in the diploma programme, International
Baccalaureate Organisation 2010.

International School of Paris, “Secondary School Assessment Policy 2014-15”, viewed on:
25.3.15,
https://www.isparis.edu/uploaded/Documents/M/Secondary_School_Assessment_Policy.pdf

Mattlidens Gymnasium Study Guide, academic year 2015-16.