top of page

3.2 Leveraging the Core Competencies for Learner-Centered Assessment

The first time that fractions mattered to me was when I needed to calculate my overall percentage on a Math 12 exam. The mark was all that mattered, and I had ground myself to a nub using ineffective rehearsal strategies to try to prepare. I passed with an 86%, which met the threshold for an A! Success! Had I learned the material? Could I apply any skills later in university? No, I failed Calculus, and for the first time in my life, my confidence was truly shaken. Observations about my initial choice of major aside (I am a veteran English and History teacher and now live and breathe Literacy), my anecdote will be all too relatable to a great number of BC high school graduates this year.

I read an interesting article from Edutopia about how to avoid the “assessment trap” and help students get past number grades and into deep learning. It got me thinking about how the Core Competencies could be assessed and how to align that assessment with instruction in a student-centered classroom.

How to Help Students Focus on What They’re Learning, Not the Grade

Work that emphasizes students’ developing skills instead of a graded product reminds them to see learning as their goal.


Core Competencies for the Win!

Given the hubbub around the new K-12 Reporting Framework and the ensuing confusion about what constitutes assessment, I would like to highlight the Core Competencies as a means of guiding understanding. More to the point, I believe that teachers and parents would be more comfortable with reporting if they placed greater value on observation, conversation, and student self-assessment. The Core Competencies are woven into the curriculum across the subject areas, and lend themselves to assessment by observing, discussion, and student self-assessment.

Growth against the Core Competencies is measurable, but difficult to quantify, so in my experience, teachers may avoid composing their observations until report cards are upon them and they have gathered sufficient Gradebook evidence to assign a number grade. This is particularly evident in Competency Based IEP reports, where each student has at least one objective in a core competency, and often has several according to their unique learner profile. The Ministry of Education has released some supporting documents to clarify the use of the Proficiency Scales.

Developing self-reflective learners from K-12

Competencies are encountered through the curriculum. Here are some ways that K-12 teachers are encouraged to incorporate student self-assessment throughout a student’s career, culminating in the capstone project, which is a graduation requirement.

Student-centered curricular designs favour assessments that are aligned with instruction, so that the learning environment becomes a continuous feedback loop in which students are active participants. McMillan notes that “the right kind of assessment, and the manner in which it is integrated with instruction, can have dramatic effects on how much is learned and how well something is performed” (2014, p. 2). Recording this kind of data can be onerous if a teacher wants to capture copious notes on each student, or it can be very informal and part of the natural flow of a lesson or unit.

Here are 2 terrific resources:

A Simple Tool for Aligning Instruction and Assessment

This quick visual guide can help teachers ensure that their daily lessons align with their learning goals and assessments.

... and this article by Jay McTighe on Formative Assessment.

8 Quick Checks for Understanding

Formative assessment is a proven technique for improving student learning, and the strategies shared here by Jay McTighe work both in the classroom and remotely.

I would love to hear about the ways in which you have been successful with these forms of assessment and to extend this conversation to planning with Backward Design.


Websites to Visit (References)

BC Ministry of Education pages:

Articles in Edutopia:

Scholarly text:

McMillan, J. H. (2014). The Role of Assessment in Teaching. In J. H. McMillan, Classroom Assessment: principles and practice for effective standards-based instruction (6th edition.). (pp. 1-20). Pearson.

4 Σχόλια

Andrew Campbell
Andrew Campbell
06 Αυγ 2023

Seen. Happy to see the new updates. Good going!

Μου αρέσει

06 Αυγ 2023

Seen. Happy to see the new updates. Good going!

Μου αρέσει

05 Αυγ 2023

Hi Julie,

Core competencies for the win indeed! These really are the foundational skills that make all other learning, and life success, possible. I have to admit, I still need to do the deep dive into the new reporting order (it is on my to do list this summer), but I did a quick scan of the link you provided, and I appreciated the table of what stayed consistent, and what is evolving. It looks like teachers will continue to be asked to assess core competencies by providing descriptive feedback vs. quantifying with a proficiency scale mark (and students through self reflection) and that curricular competencies will be marked based using the proficiency scale consistently in all districts for k-…

Μου αρέσει
06 Αυγ 2023
Απάντηση σε

Thanks, Tina! I believe the new reporting order points us to the kind of situation we’re hoping for—where the student is central, and success is measured by progress that highlights their glorious uniqueness. The core competencies are at the heart of that kind of learning environment and permit, even encourage, engagement and self-assessment. I anticipate that it will be hard for some teachers to feel comfortable with this, but for years we have been evaluating things that don’t need to be evaluated and have become fixed in this method. Unfortunately, this is reflected in the rising apathy of our teenagers, so that many don’t find value in attending or engaging in “box ticking” activities unrelated to their interests and dreams.…

Μου αρέσει
bottom of page