Assessment is the process of gathering information that reflects how well a student is achieving the curriculum expectations in a subject or course. The primary purpose of assessment is to improve student learning. 

Assessment for the purpose of improving student learning is both assessment for learning and assessment as learning. As part of assessment for learning, teachers provide students with descriptive feedback and coaching for improvement.

Teachers engage in assessment as learning by helping students be independent, autonomous learners who can set individual goals, monitor their own progress, determine next steps and reflect on their thinking and learning.

Teachers obtain assessment information through formal and informal observations, discussions, learning conversations, questioning, conferences, homework, tasks done in groups, demonstrations, projects, portfolios, developmental continua, performances, peer and self-assessments, self-reflections, essays and tests.

For Grades 1 to 12, assessment is based on evidence of student achievement of the provincial curriculum expectations. Teachers ensure that students' demonstration of their achievement is assessed in a balanced manner with respect to the four categories of the achievement chart and that achievement of particular expectations is considered within the appropriate categories.

Knowledge and Skills

The categories of knowledge and skills are:

  • Knowledge and Understanding - subject-specific content acquired in each grade/course (knowledge), and the comprehension of its meaning and significance (understanding);
  • Thinking - use of critical and creative thinking skills and/or processes;
  • Communication - conveying of meaning through various forms; and
  • Application - use of knowledge/skills to make connections within and between various contexts.

Four Levels of Achievement

The achievement chart also identifies four levels of achievement, defined as follows.

Level 1

Level 1 represents achievement that falls much below the provincial standard. The student demonstrates the specified knowledge and skills with limited effectiveness. Students must work at significantly improving learning in specific areas, as necessary, if they are to be successful in the next grade/course.

Level 2

Level 2 represents achievement that approaches the provincial standard. The student demonstrates the specified knowledge and skills with some effectiveness. Students performing at this level need to work on identified learning gaps to ensure future success.

Level 3

Level 3 represents the provincial standard for achievement. The student demonstrates the specified knowledge and skills with considerable effectiveness. Parents of students achieving at Level 3 can be confident that their children will be prepared for work in subsequent grades/courses.

Level 4

Level 4 identifies achievement that surpasses the provincial standard. The student demonstrates the specified knowledge and skills the specified knowledge and skills with a high degree of effectiveness. However, achievement at level four does not mean that the student has achieved expectations beyond those specified for the grade/course.

Description Qualifiers

Specific "qualifiers" are used with the descriptors in the achievement chart to describe student performance at each of the four levels of achievement.

Description QualifierUsed for Level
Limited 1
Some 2
Considerable 3
High Degree of/Thorough 4

For example, achievement at Level 3 in the Thinking category for the criterion "use of planning skills" would be described in the achievement chart as "[The student] uses planning skills with considerable effectiveness."

Teacher Expectations

As essential steps in assessment for learning and as learning, teachers need to:
  • Plan assessment concurrently and integrate it seamlessly with instruction;
  • Share learning goals and success criteria with students at the outset of learning to ensure that students and teachers have a common and shared understanding of these goals and criteria as learning progresses;
  • Gather information about student learning before, during, and at or near the end of a period of instruction, using a variety of assessment strategies and tools;
  • Use assessment to inform instruction, guide next steps, and help students monitor their progress towards achieving their learning goals;
  • Analyze and interpret evidence of learning;
  • Give and receive specific and timely descriptive feedback about student learning; and
  • Help students to develop skills of peer and self-assessment.

Teachers ensure that they assess students' development of learning skills and work habits in Grades 1 to 12, using the assessment approaches described above to gather information and provide feedback to students.

Additional Resources

Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting in Ontario's Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 12