Teaching & Learning

Student learning is the center of our work. We believe that all students should have equal opportunity to learn and master essential capabilities and develop deep understanding, and thus, our curriculum is designed and aligned to standards.

This ensures an equitable education for students in each section of a course and in any classroom across a grade level. We believe that when teachers have clearly designed, meaningful and rigorous learning outcomes for students, then collaboration can be focused on sharing best practices about how we foster learning.


The ASL curriculum translates the school mission into day-to-day practice and has three components:

What we teach

What do we want students to know, be able to do, and understand?

  • Standards and benchmarks
  • Course overviews and unit plans

How we teach

How do we facilitate the intended learning?

  • The ASL Teaching Standards
  • Essential agreements

How we assess

How do we know students are learning? What is the evidence of student learning? What do we do when they are not learning?

  • Common assessments
  • Common rubrics
curriculum model graphic

Curriulum review cycle

curriculum review cycle


What are standards?

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Principles of effective assessment

Effective assessment should:

  • improve student learning, enhance student motivation and promote learner self-reliance and self-reflection
  • address individual learning needs and styles using multiple measures
  • have a direct impact on instruction
  • indicate that not everything we teach needs to be assessed
  • be valid, reliable and efficient
  • be fair and ethical
  • be rooted in authentic contexts that apply to knowledge and skills outside of the classroom
  • be aligned with and measure student learning according to the standards in the written curriculum

Purposes of assessment

The primary purpose of assessment is to improve student learning. Assessment affects all constituencies within the school community.

Assessment provides students with:

  • an understanding of their own progress and the opportunity to reflect upon and to improve their learning strategies
  • the opportunity to demonstrate what they understand
  • an understanding of learning goals and the criteria for progress and success
  • self-assessment skills that they can use beyond the classroom
  • the opportunity to build confidence and self-esteem by acknowledging their successes
  • the motivation to set and achieve realistic goals

Assessment provides parents with:

  • accurate and timely information on a student's strengths, weaknesses and progress
  • data needed to discuss an individual learning plan with realistic goals

Assessment enables teachers to:

  • monitor students' growth and understanding
  • communicate expectations for student learning
  • adapt curriculum and instruction to the learning needs of the students
  • inform parents and students about student progress in an effective, comprehensive manner

Assessment enables school administration to:

  • provide data for effective curricular evaluation, revision and program improvements
  • provide the data necessary for admissions and grade/year placement decisions
  • provide the opportunity to place students effectively within a learning continuum
  • evaluate and provide feedback to teachers
  • evaluate student/school performance in comparison with other international and independent schools
  • demonstrate to the broader community the extent to which the curriculum is producing the desired results and fulfilling the mission of the School

Assessment is the process of collecting and analyzing information about a student's development and progress towards desired learning outcomes. Reflection, evaluation, feedback, recording and reporting are integral components of this process. Professional judgment is inherent in effective assessment.

Approaches to learning

We have developed and named attributes that support lifelong learning in the form of the Approaches to Learning, which arose from the ASL Portrait of the Learner. They are measured and reported on separately from academic achievement. Students and teachers gather evidence throughout the year to mark student progress in developing these attributes. The Approaches to Learning form the basis for conversations about student learning. Twice a year, the School formally shares students’ Approaches to Learning on the report card.

  • Works well with others
  • Understands and respects diverse approaches
  • Communicates through dialogue and participation
  • Attends to the perspectives of others
  • Helps others
  • Treats others the way we expect to be treated
  • Appreciates own culture and the cultures of others
  • Values diversity of thought and experience
  • Demonstrates honesty
  • Makes the right choices even when no one is watching
  • Acts with compassion
  • Takes ownership of words, actions and learning
  • Fulfills obligations to self and to others
  • Works hard
  • Values mistakes as learning opportunities
  • Reflects on own learning
  • Sets and pursues goals for improvement
  • Demonstrates intellectual curiosity about the world
  • Cultivates interests and strengths
  • Finds passion and purpose in learning
  • Stretches and grows by taking risks
  • Demonstrates resourcefulness in the face of challenges and change


Facilitating learning: indicators of success

  • Clear links exist among standards, assessment and instructional practices.
  • Instruction prioritizes developing a performance view of understanding over content coverage.
  • Educators use varied and research-based instructional strategies based on the learning principles.
  • Educators differentiate instruction for readiness, learning styles and interests to benefit all students.
  • Educators provide students with timely and meaningful feedback.
  • Educators provide opportunities for students to self-assess and reflect upon their learning.


Rationale for Co-teaching and Co-planning:

At ASL, student learning is at the core of our work. Educators are provided with opportunities to reflect and collaborate in order to improve the effectiveness of their practice. Ongoing support is available for teachers in the areas of curriculum, instructional practices, student learning and assessment.

What is Co-teaching at ASL?

Two or more professionals collaborating and sharing expertise to co-plan, co-teach, co-assess and co-reflect resulting in improved student outcomes, teacher success and improved access to the curriculum. In a co-teaching model, partners:

  • share decision-making surrounding instruction to meet the needs of all students.
  • promote and nurture professional partnerships among classroom teachers and specialists, specialist to specialist, teachers and assistant teachers, within and among teams.
  • share responsibility for curricular outcomes, resources and instruction, planning and teaching.
  • define specific roles and levels of participation for each partner, dependent on the instructional needs of the students and expertise of the professionals.
  • ensure parity among partners — recognition of and respect for each partner’s contributions to the collaborative effort, even though their skills and expertise may be very different.