Regional Workshop – Curriculum & Assessment

This afternoon I was able to attend a presentation about a prototype for curriculum and assessment at the North Peace Cultural Centre. There were over 80 participants from School Districts 59 and 60 who took part in what I felt were exciting proposals around how we handle curriculum and assessment in the future.

Here are the slides and questionnaire.

Regional Working Session Slides_FortStJohn_May 23 2012

Regional Sessions Questionnaire Fort St. John

Assessment and the Jackhammer

This weekend I had the chance to help a friend and teacher in our district with quite a difficult project. Jackhammering and excavating a sewer line under a basement floor. The line was also twenty-four inches below the finished floor. So it was a very difficult job and after a night and a full day we were only half way done due to some very old, thick cement and clay below.

We had a multitude of tools which we more or less useful at various times. Some quite difficult and frustrating too. Two of the most often used were a jackhammer appropriately named “Brute” and a Hilti hammer drill. The Brute was over 60 lbs and the Hilti was around 20 lbs. We used the Hilti to drill 5/8″ holes throughout the concrete and then put a chisel bit on it so we could hammer away with both the Brute and the Hilti. (Note: we wore lots of personal protective equipment.) The Brute could take some serious chunks of concrete out when it was used properly and other times you could sit and hammer away at a piece while you moved it all over and get nothing. Either way it took a lot of time to do those large chunks. The Hilti often broke off smaller bits quickly most of the time. Occasionally the Hilti would fall into a hole it had drilled and get stuck. The Brute was a handy companion to free the Hilti in that case.

I found to be more satisfied with the Hilti as there was always small signs of success to keep you going. Occasionally it also took off large chunks. It was frustrating when they weren’t coming though. The Brute took a long time and was dejecting when there wasn’t any results. It was also very exciting when a huge chunk came off.

How does this fit with assessment? Well I think the two hammers are similar to assessment of learning and assessment for learning.

The Brute is similar to assessment of learning.

  • It can take a long time
  • It tries to cover a lot of ground and you won’t know if it works until the last shot
  • When you have difficulties it is hard to change the approach as it is cumbersome and heavy
  • When successful there is evidence of small or large gains
  • It can be successful or not
  • It is a tool

The Hilti is similar to assessment for learning.

  • It can happen over a short time and frequently
  • It often takes care of small chunks and you quickly know if it is working
  • If you run into difficulties it is easy to change the angle and keep working
  • When successful there is evidence of frequent small gains, or occasional large gains
  • It can be successful or not
  • It is a tool

We were better using the tools by the end of the day as well. Without both tools the job wouldn’t have gotten done.

Those last two bits said, assessment gets better with practice and there is a place for both assessment for and of learning in classrooms. Both are needed for success and to meet the needs of all of our learning community members.

Thoughts are appreciated as always in the comments!


2009 FSA Planning Conference

FSA Planning Conference, October 28th


  • lots of upgrades from plnet and awis
  • tremendous amount of load testing
  • confident problems encountered have been solved
  • not certain on some of the reasons for latency issues

e-FSA 2009 Planning

  • lower rate of use in the afternoon provincially
  • highest at 9am, 11am Pacific
  • need to run sample test at all sites again
  • Can decide who writes when or allow schools flexibility. Is this a district decision or school by school?
  • Sample 2009 is now available on the website…
  • Longer field testing, Dec 8 – Jan 23rd… unit of test only. Students are randomly assigned units
  • Field test can be used to test the system with WTS resources monitoring location (Peter Goldberg at PLNet, Brian Jonkers at Assessment branch)
  • FSA Administration is Feb 2-27th.
  • Can schedule at will
  • reqs
  • PC windows 2000, XP, Vista
  • Mac OSX 10.3, 10.4, 10.5
  • IE 5.5-7, Firefox 3.0.1 on the PC
  • Safari 3.1, Firefox (firefox 3.0 worked on mac) Mac
  • Pop-up blockers must be turned off
  • Pre-admin test at web address above should be tested on the machines to be used, quick way to test
  • Trusted sites:, add this site in web browser on proxy server if problems occur
  • Cookies must be enabled… if they are not enabled you will see a “password is incorrect”
  • Javascripting must be enabled, blank pages often occur if javascript is not enabled
  • Proxy caching must be turned off during exam administration
  • If you have difficulties on the login page (blank page after login) hit F5 or Apple+R to refresh the screen and try logging in again.
  • Questions can be directed to PRN helpdesk from schools. Technology Services can call A. Willock if we have difficulty at 1-866-558-5339 (not to be used by schools please! Call helpdesk first so we can troubleshoot it first)
  • Don’t hit F5 / refresh after they have started. Shouldn’t  need to refresh during fsa.
  • Caching turned off is critical. If logging into network with same login on mac, make sure they don’t have a home directory (shared chaching)… need to check new ncomputing boxes

Questions for our planning

  • local issues?
  • Scheduling?
  • Timelines?
  • Resources?
  • Communication?


  • stagger students writing the e-fsa and the written to prevent cheating, extra space in lab. Don’t need to stagger for load.
  • mix the grade 4 and 7 into same lab, multiaged group, 7’s can model and help possibly