Assessment Policy

IB Diploma Program Philosophy

The aim of assessment within the IB program is to support curricular goals and encourage learning. Learning is seen in the larger picture through the IB Learner Profile, building those characteristics which make good leaders, hard workers, great thinkers, and caring citizens. The IB utilizes a variety of assessments to provide students the opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities.

The external examinations provide the greatest structure and direction for each subject. The nature of the examination questions varies from paper to paper and from subject to subject. Objective tests, comprising sets of multiple choice questions, are employed in the sciences. Short answer questions, structured and extended responses, essay questions, data-analysis questions, text-analysis questions, and case-study questions are all used where appropriate.

Because these summative instruments are the means by which students will be judged, it is the aim of our program to prepare our students for success in these summative tasks. Teachers have the responsibility to design and provide formative assessment structures and practices that break down the various assessments into skills, and to help students improve their understanding of what constitutes excellence and where their work stands in relation to this. The emphasis here, a key component of learning how to learn, is improving students’ judgment of their own strengths and weaknesses and then helping them develop strategies to improve.

Program Practice

IB courses are designed to foster higher level thinking and application of skills rather than merely recalling large quantities of knowledge. Students are required to recall, adapt and apply knowledge and skills to new situations. The implications of what is taught in each course are therefore significant in the following ways:

  • Every course has a knowledge component, an understanding component and an application component, all of which, if they are done well, fit seamlessly together.

  • Skill development is to be constantly reinforced in a learning spiral. Once a skill is learned is must be reinforced by applications to new situations or material.

  • Since the syllabus content of each course is substantial, it is vital that each course develop and reinforce excellent time management and study habits.

Diploma Program Internal Assessment Tasks, External Assessments and Exams

Language A: English HL

  • External Assessments:
    • Written Examinations
    • Written Assignment
  • Internal Assessments:
    • Oral Presentation
    • Oral Commentary

Language B: French, German, Spanish SL

  • External Assessments:
    • Written Examinations
    • Written Assignment
  • Internal Assessment:
    • Individual Oral

Language B: Classical Languages – Latin

  • External Assessments:
    • Written Examinations
  • Internal Assessment

History HL

  • External Assessments:
    • Written Examinations
  • Internal Assessments:
    • Historical Investigation

Experimental Sciences: Biology HL or Physics SL

  • External Assessments:
    • Written Examinations
  • Internal Assessments:
    • Portfolio of lab investigations

Mathematical Studies SL

  • External Assessments:
    • Written Examinations
  • Internal Assessment:
    • Math investigation

Arts or Electives:

  • Psychology SL
    • External Assessments
      • Written Examinations
    • Internal Assessment
      • Experimental Study
  • Visual Arts SL/HL
    • External Assessment
      • Visual Arts Journal
    • Internal Assessment
      • Production Portfolio
  • Film SL
    • External Assessments
      • Written documentary script
      • Production of a short film
    • Internal Assessments
      • Film commentary
  • Economics SL
    • External Assessments
      • Written Examinations
    • Internal Assessments
      • Portfolio
  • Music SL
    • External Assessments
      • Written Examination
      • Group Performance
    • Internal Assessments
      • Musical Links Paper

Theory of Knowledge:

  • External Assessment:
    • TOK Essay
  • Internal Assessment:
    • TOK Presentation

Extended Essay

Assessment Practices - Roles and Responsibilities

Administrators, counselors, and coordinators will
  • Provide guidance in the selection of course alternatives and level (HL or SL) as will meet student program needs.

  • Communicate with students and parents the expectations of the program.

  • Provide supporting information about the nature of subject assessments to parents and students.

  • Work with the teachers to develop a calendar of internal assessment, CAS, and Extended Essay Deadlines at the beginning of each year (sample attached).

  • Develop a workload assessment policy (sample attached) & monitor the workload in each grade level to ensure that students have ample notification and time to excel.

  • Provide teachers with the May exam calendar.

  • Monitor and provide instruction for purposes of revision of major assessments such as but not limited to the Extended Essay, the TOK Prescribed Title, and Written Assignments.

  • Provide data & any necessary reports (Enquiry Upon Results) from each May testing session so teachers may reflect on performance.

Teachers will provide students, at the beginning of each course, with an understanding of:

  • The course content as dictated by IB

  • The nature of the summative assessments required by IB

  • The relative weight of these assessments for the student’s achievement of the aims of the course

  • A breakdown of the skills and a direction of the sequence of instruction required to be successful and the progression in which they will be taught and reinforced

  • The nature of the formative assessment tasks that will provide skill growth

  • The rubrics by which all formative and summative assessments are judged by IB and by the teacher

  • A large-scale calendar which shows when IB assessments are due in the course of the year

  • Teacher expectations as to deadlines, due dates, make up, assignment format, assignment turn in procedures, academic honesty, and treatment of late work

Teachers will adhere to the Mechanicsville High School Workload Management Policy

  • No more than two major assignments, assessments or tests can be due on any given day across all subjects.

  • Minor assignments such as quizzes and homework are not subject to regulation on the calendar

  • Circumstances beyond the control of the faculty, such as unannounced assemblies or snow days, may force changes without sufficient advance notice for re-planning.

Teachers are expected to collect, report, and utilize class data in the following manner:

  • Report to students and parents on student progress through use of Power School, interim reports, report cards, parent-teacher conferences and phone calls where appropriate.

  • Post grades on Power School in a timely manner

  • Design instruction to meet the needs of the students with varying learner styles.

  • Design instruction that builds the knowledge, understandings and skills required for the students to be successful on the formal IB assessments.

  • Design instruction to review & offer remediation when required.

  • Reflect on the effectiveness of instruction and on assessment instruments

  • Veteran teachers will mentor new teachers through the program and provide guidance on assessments; this includes cross-scoring where appropriate to ensure the criteria are applied correctly and consistently.

Teachers are expected to evaluate student performance from the previous year. The coordinator will provide teachers with the following information for that reflection:

  • Predicted grades and actual grades from the previous May’s exam session

  • Copies of the exams from the previous May’s exam session

  • Cumulative data showing scores on each assessment for the past 5 years.

  • EUR reports for any assessment for which the teacher’s scores were moderated into different grading bands

  • EUR scripts for any assessment where the predicted grades are widely different from the moderated mark, or which the teacher has specifically requested

Students will

  • Develop a personal 2-year IB program of studies that will best fit their future goals. This will be based on their conversations with the Counselor and/or Coordinator and formed by the end of 10th grade.

  • Observe all regulations and criteria in the production of assessments or the taking of examinations, meaning to behave ethically and follow the Academic Honesty Policy.

  • Participate in the formative assessments to grow in concept, skill, and knowledge strength

  • Reflect on progress for improvement

  • Meet all internal deadlines as prescribed by the teacher and the school

  • Seek help when the student does not understand a concept, skill or background knowledge

  • Attend class regularly to receive the benefit of instruction and practice

  • Be organized with materials and assignments ready for class each day

Assessment Practices - Design of Classroom Assessments

When designing assessments, the faculty will strive to address the concepts of international education and international-mindedness, and address the characteristics of the IB Learner Profile. All constituents, students, teachers, parents, and the administration, will have a clear understanding of the reason for an assessment, what is being assessed, the criteria for success, and the method of assessment. Assessment will support and encourage effective teaching and learning and will be designed to allow students to demonstrate understanding.


  • Assessed work will reflect the specified criteria of the Diploma Program’s IAs and external exams.

  • When planning, teachers will begin with the summative assessment in mind. Both teachers and students will clearly understand the criteria for success on the summative assessment. This assessment will determine student understanding of the lesson/unit.

  • By using pre-assessments, teachers will identify each student’s prior knowledge and individual differences, which will help in the lesson plan design and assessment formation.

  • During the learning experience, teachers will use frequent formative assessments (homework and quizzes), offering both student and teacher insight into student understanding. Doing so allows the teacher to make necessary changes in instruction to develop further student understanding and clarify any student misconceptions. It also helps students accept more responsibility for learning, while developing cognitive skills.

  • Teachers will offer timely feedback about the assessment to students and/or parents. Students and teachers will engage in self-assessment and reflection.

  • When two or more teachers are responsible for instructing the students, internal standardization will take place. The teachers will cross-grade to ensure the marks have been awarded in a consistent fashion before the IAs are submitted.

  • When necessary, teachers will modify their instruction and assessments to meet the needs of the ELL learners according to the Language Policy

  • When necessary, teachers will also modify their instruction and assessments for our special needs students according to the Inclusive Arrangements Policy.

Teacher designed assessments will test the following as appropriate:

Subject content, knowledge accumulation, math skills, reading comprehension, oral communication skills, analytical and critical thinking skills, writing skills, language manipulation skills

The assessments may take various forms:

Performance-based including presentations and portfolios, process journals, practice examples from prior exams, oral and written quizzes, research-based assignments, writing samples, summative assessments that may be oral, written, and performance based. Teacher-designed assessments will reflect the knowledge and skills required of the students in their formal IB assessments.

In preparing for classroom assessments the teacher may make use of the following practices:

Rubrics (based on criteria for each subject), collaboration - paired and group work, blogs, oral assessments, pre-assessments quizzes and/or tests, formative assessments (quizzes), summative assessments (tests), end of grading period tests, end of semester and end of year tests/exams.

Practice IB External Assessments

All students are required to have at least one full practice of every assessment except the Extended Essay before they have to do the official assessment to be submitted to IB for scoring for the diploma. Teachers are expected to evaluate their students’ progress based on the practice assessments and then re-teach and offer further practice as needed to prepare students for the official IB assessment.

Internal Assessments

Internal assessment time lines will be developed for each subject to break down the assessments into manageable pieces for the students. In addition, this allows teachers to give appropriate feedback in a timely fashion in accordance with the IB guidelines. Where appropriate, final internal assessments will be collected through Blackboard. Student papers will run through the Safe Assign (plagarism) feature to ensure academic honesty on the part of the students (in accordance with the Academic Honesty Policy).

DP Assessment and other National Requirements

The students are required to take our state’s Standards of Learning exams at the end of their courses. In teaching, the IB curriculum takes precedent. The knowledge and skills acquired through the IB curriculum prepares our students for their state assessments. Some of our students also take Advanced Placement courses and the respective exam. The IB assessments take precedent over the other assessments; the IB Coordinator communicates the IB exam schedule to our school’s testing coordinator. Together we ensure that the state exams do not conflict with the IB assessments.

Vertical Matriculation

All IB teachers are sent to formal IB training. Ninth and tenth grade pre-Baccalaureate teachers are also sent to IB training. This ensures that the preparation for IB Assessments can begin in the 9th grade. All 9th and 10th grade teachers teaching preparatory courses for the IB Diploma Program are expected to develop assessments that help students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful on IB assessments. This means that students begin in the 9th and 10th grade learning how to do the type of assessment that they will be required to do in 11th and 12th grade. This also means that they are exposed to the IB Scoring Criteria in their core subject areas in some form during the 9th and 10th grade.

Program Review

This policy will be under review with input from teachers, students and administrators with the incorporation of all new IB revisions as they occur, or at least every three years. Collaboration will occur through student surveys and teacher meetings. The results will be compiled and the policy will be amended as necessary.

The policy will be communicated to the school community at the beginning of each new school year through our IB faculty meeting. It will also be posted on the school’s website.

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