The government has issued Diagnostic Assessment Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM) 155 which provides direction to teachers, principals, and school board personnel about the use of diagnostic assessment.

PPM 155 signals a fundamental change in the locus of control on the use of diagnostic assessments from school boards and principals to individual teachers.

PPM 155 articulates the distinct roles that teachers, principals, and school boards play in the diagnostic assessment process.

The key component of the memorandum is the central role of teachers’ professional judgement in the selection, use, and timing of diagnostic assessments in their classrooms.

The key components of the PPM are:

Teachers must use diagnostic assessment during the school year to inform their instruction;

District School Boards will generate a list of approved diagnostic assessment tools;

Teachers will use their professional judgement to determine:

  • which diagnostic tool(s) from the board’s pre-approved list they will use;
  • which student(s) they will use the tool with;
  • how often they will use the diagnostic tool; and
  • when they will use the diagnostic tool.

PPM 155 does not apply to the administration of special education assessments which identify students with special needs or to provincially mandated assessments such as the Grades 3 and 6 EQAO. Teachers will continue to administer both of these types of assessments.

Teachers are expected to use diagnostic assessment based on their professional judgement to guide teaching and learning in their classrooms. Members will use their professional judgement to determine which tools from the board list, which students, and the timing of such diagnostic assessments to best meet the needs of the students in their classrooms. Members should be prepared to provide evidence/documentation of their use of diagnostic assessment. Documentation may be for individual students or for small groups of students and does not need to include data for an entire class. Documentation could take a variety of forms including but not limited to: pre-tests, observations, rubrics, checklists, student self-reflection tools (e.g., exit cards), or running records.

If the board list of approved assessments includes only literacy and numeracy assessments, non-homeroom teachers should use their own informal diagnostic assessments for their subject area and be prepared to provide evidence if requested by their administrator.

Some literacy coaches/teachers may have the administration of diagnostic assessments to at-risk students as part of their role. If it is considered a core job responsibility they should continue to administer the assessments to the at-risk students.

Administrators cannot direct members to perform diagnostic assessment in a manner that is contrary to the member’s professional judgement. Members cannot be directed to use a specific tool, to administer assessments to specific students, or to complete an assessment by a specific date. Should a member be directed by an administrator to conduct an assessment that is contrary to the member’s professional judgement the member should contact the ETFO local president immediately.

If school boards request teachers to conduct diagnostic testing to gather additional ‘ diagnostic data’ for their Board Improvement Plan, it is ETFO’s position that teachers must be provided with release time during the instructional day to conduct the assessment and to complete all aspects of the marking and administration of such diagnostic assessment.


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