As of fall 2017, Cayman International School’s elementary division will be moving to a standards-based assessment and reporting system.
Standards-based reporting refers to systems of instruction, assessment and academic reporting that are based on students demonstrating understanding of specific knowledge and skills throughout their education. These standards are research-based and are designed to encourage the highest achievement of every student. Standards define the knowledge, concepts and skills that students should acquire at each grade level.
Teachers use standards to plan instruction, assess students based on skills and understandings and set goals for a child’s educational journey. In other words, standards-based reporting is a way of informing students, teachers and parents which specific skills have been mastered and which skills need more work.
“This is a welcome change for the school, which prides itself on being at the forefront of modern education in the Cayman Islands,” says Elementary Principal Melissa Kay, adding that the teachers and administrators at Cayman International School did not come to this decision lightly.
“For three years a committee of dedicated educators worked together to determine the best possible way of reporting on student progress and achievement,” she says. “After researching best practices in education and conducting parent and staff surveys to identify strengths and weaknesses of the elementary reporting system, they determined that a standards-based system best supported the educational philosophy of CIS.”
Kay says a standards-based system provides a clear picture of student achievement for teachers, parents and students.
“It provides detailed information about what a student is learning and can demonstrate in each content area and provides room for growth,” she says. “It implies that all students can learn, but will do so at different rates and in different ways.”
Standards-based assessment encourages children to focus on what they already know and what they still need to work on, says Kay.
“The beauty of this system is that students will be able to articulate their strengths and areas for growth,” she says. “Having this information will help students develop greater confidence in their abilities and prepare them for future educational demands. Students will focus less on grades and more on what they need to do to be proficient.”
Kay said the faculty at Cayman International School was happy to see the new standards-based reporting system implemented.
“After spending several years following a detailed action plan, building a report card template that complemented the school’s mission, determining appropriate standards for each grade level and specialist classes, creating supporting documentation for teachers and parents and developing parent and teacher education workshops, the faculty is excited to see their hard work being put into practice,” she says.