Mid Year Summative Assessments - Celebration!

February 18, 2022

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Yesterday, your child’s summative learning communication is posted on their learning portfolio.  This summative assessment is a snap shot of your child’s learning. The fuller picture is contained in each post and is communicated in conferences with our team. As  we enter a new way of communicating student we are asking parents to change your mindset about how student learning is communicated as we are learning how to  understand the language and framework being used to describe their achievement. This language is organized as a proficiency scale.

We have moved away from achievement indicators and letter grades to a proficiency scale. When viewing the summative assessment please do not  translate the proficiency scale directly to a letter grade system. The old system of letter grades cannot be compared to a proficiency scale. We are moving to a new way of view learning and describing learning.

The proficiency scale is telling us a rich story, paired with e-portfolios, tells a story of effort, growth and achievement in much greater detail. Moreover, it is not linear, like the traditional letter grade system. Whereas the sections from A to B were the same size, the proficiency scale descriptor groups are of different sizes.

The "Developing" section is where students show an understanding of some, but not all of what is being studied. This is where learners spend the most of their time. As such, it is a wide category.

The "Proficient" section, in fact, is a fairly narrow category with firm boundaries; either the understanding which is being demonstrated is complete or not.

The "Extending" section shows a student's ability to independently demonstrate understanding beyond what was taught in class. It shows a level of ambition and creativity with the goal of creating challenges for themselves.

Please see below, an explanation that uses an example of learning how to drive to better explain each of the four sections of the proficiency scale.

At Dixon, we truly believe that this is the best way to frame education and learning. The scale is based in research and is more productive in terms of the students' growth as learners.

Please take time to sit down with your child and celebrate their learning, have your child describe what they feel their not yet might be and what their next steps in learning  night be. Positive encouragement builds the confidence of learners to go forward and tackle their learning with a growth mindset.

Understanding the PROFICIENCY SCALE


For each individual student, learning moves through various stages. The goal is the same; there is a particular skill or understanding that needs to be learned and demonstrated. However, the time it takes for students to reach their destination and the route they take to get there varies. The proficiency scale is a way for teachers, students and parents to understand where each student is on their learning journey and what they need to work on to move towards proficiency. The following examples are adapted from our work with Canadian Assessment Educator, Katie White, who describes these stages of learning in the context of learning to drive.


When learners are emerging, they are in the process of building their readiness to learn. This includes elements such as becoming familiar with language, background context or foundational skills.

When we are learning to drive, before we get behind the wheel, we need to learn what the street signs mean, the basic rules of the road and what all the parts of the car do. We need a solid foundation before we move onto to practicing the skill we’re learning and move to being supported.


When learners are developing, they are working with others to improve their skill and understanding. This is where students spend most of their time, practicing, refining, making wrong turns and correcting their processes and thinking.

This is when we actually turn on the car and try driving. We need opportunities with someone to guide us where we might need support and further practice with the process. It is this practice with a more experienced driver that allows us to move towards proficiency.


When learners are proficient, they are able to demonstrate the skills they have learned independently and with confidence. Students should be able to show their proficiency in a number of ways.

Drivers demonstrate their proficiency by passing their driving test. Once they show that they have the skill to drive independently, they no longer need someone in the car with them; they can continue to develop their comfort and enjoyment independently.


When learners are extending, they are free to explore the larger applications and possibilities of their learning. As they develop deeper understanding, they have more opportunities to make thoughtful connections and to innovate.

Once drivers are extending, they can try their hand at many new experiences. They can drive different sorts of vehicles and explore different terrain and weather. Their proficiency in the skill of driving allows them to explore the world in ways they previously weren’t able to.


Updated: Friday, February 18, 2022