Frequently Asked Questions About Measuring Student Achievement

How is my child’s achievement evaluated on the report card?

Teachers report student achievement based on expectations outlined in the Ontario Curriculum as well as learning skills.  There is a clear distinction between curricular achievement (what they have learned) and demonstration of learning skills (how they have learned).  These two distinct areas are reported separately on your child’s report card.


What are the learning skills?

The learning skills that appear on the Report Card are slightly different from elementary to secondary school. 

At the elementary level they are:

- Independent work

- Use of information
- Initiative - Cooperation with others
- Conflict resolution - Homework completion
- Class participation - Goal setting to improve work
- Problem solving  

At the secondary level they are:

- Works independently - Teamwork
- Organization  - Initiative 

- Work habits/homework

Why are the learning skills reported separately on the report card?

Learning skills play an important role in fostering student success and by separating skill development from curricular achievement on the report card we are better able to focus on its importance. This distinction gives teachers an opportunity to better communicate your child’s strengths and areas for improvement.

How do teachers assess learning skills?
The assessment of learning skills is based primarily on observation, however your child may also be asked to participate in a self-assessment of skills.  We encourage parents to promote these skills at home as well.

How do teachers evaluate my child’s achievement of the curriculum expectations?
Depending on the students’ grade level they will be assigned either a percentage or a letter grade.  Students in Grades 1 to 6 will receive a letter grade, e.g., A, B, C – with a plus or minus sign as required.  Students from Grades 7 to 12 will receive a percentage grade e.g., 85% or 72%.

What does a percentage grade mean?
The teacher will use a percentage grade to summarize your child’s achievement based on expectations outlined in the provincial curriculum.  The grade represents the level of achievement that your child has consistently demonstrated in a particular course or subject.  There are four levels of achievement defined by the Ministry of Education.

Level of achievement most consistently demonstrated Percentage Grade Range


Level 4 - A very high to outstanding level of achievement.  Achievement is above the provincial standard 80% - 100%


Level 3 - A high level of achievement.  Achievement is at the provincial standard (Students who are achieving at this level are well prepared for work in the next course) 70% - 79%


Level 2 - A moderate level of achievement.  Achievement is below but approaching the provincial standard  60% - 69%


Level 1 - A passable level of achievement.  Achievement is below the provincial standard 50% - 59%


Below level 1 - insufficient achievement of curriculum expectations Below 50%  

Please view our link on Achievement Charts for more information.

How does a teacher determine the percentage grade?
Your child’s teacher will look at information from a number of tasks assigned in a course or subject.  They will take into consideration the importance of each  task. 

The teacher will determine the most consistent level your child has achieved, based on the information gathered through these tasks.  Once they have determined a level, they will select a grade in the appropriate range (see above chart). 

What if my child doesn’t complete the tests and assignments for a course?
Teachers will assess the level your child is achieving and determine the percentage grade based on evidence of learning through assigned tasks such as tests, projects and presentations. When pieces of evidence are missing the student’s overall achievement will be affected .  If the teacher does not have enough evidence to reliably determine your child’s achievement of essential curriculum expectations, then the grade will be below 50%. 

What is an achievement chart?
The Ministry of Education has developed charts to describe what achievement should look in every subject area.  These charts base achievement on four categories of knowledge and skills:
  • Knowledge and Understanding
  • Thinking
  • Communication
  • Application
The charts outline what achievement or performance should look like for each of the four levels (1 - 4) in each of the knowledge and skill categories for every subject/course that your child takes.  The achievement charts provide teachers with a standard guide to plan, assess and evaluate student work.  Please visit our link on Achievement Chartsto get more information and to view some samples.

I hear teachers talking about diagnostic, formative and summative assessment.  What is the difference between these kinds of assessment?
Assessment is the ongoing process of collecting and reviewing how and what your child is learning.  Diagnostic assessment occurs at the beginning of the teaching process – it is used to determine what students already know and can do.  Formative assessment occurs on an on-going basis during the teaching process – it is used to determine how well the student is progressing.  Summative assessment occurs toward the end of the teaching process after a student has had time to learn and practice skills – it is used to determine achievement of key expectations