What we find most interesting about this list is that there isn’t one item on it that is assessed in traditional standardized testing.
Our teachers support our students in many of these qualities by knowing them as individuals, by helping
them navigate the daily ups and downs of friendships and cooperative learning groups, by challenging them academically at developmentally appropriate levels, and by encouraging them to solve problems for themselves rather than solving problems for them.
We have learned that students who are engaged in the process of their own assessment are more invested in the process of learning.
Students construct meaning and deepen their understanding of their progress and of themselves as learners during the assessment process.
In our Preschool, teachers record observations to share at parent/teacher conferences held twice a year. In addition, parents and teachers have opportunities to meet throughout the year to review student progress and receive a written narrative at the end of the year to celebrate the year’s growth.
In the Elementary School, portfolio conferences, held twice a year, give a rounded picture of the student’s learning process with teacher written narratives, rubrics, work samples, and progress reports. Students set and review goals with teachers. The portfolio gives a snapshot of the student at a specific point in time. Portfolios are also used for students and teachers to reflect on student learning accomplished over the period of a year.
Student evaluation is not an end in itself, but part of the growth and development process of each child.
At Friends, we also have measurable achievement goals for our students: we want them to become outstanding readers, impressive writers, accomplished mathematicians, and curious scientists.
Teachers assess student progress constantly
through informal observations, reading inventories, comparing written assignments to previous work, marking progress through beginning and end of unit assessments, and giving more formal tests, such as spelling tests (in grades 2-5) at regular intervals.
Knowing how each child is doing compared to grade level expectations is critical to us.
In our older grades (3rd, 4th & 5th) we are very purposeful and thoughtful about the kinds of achievement tests we administer. We do not spend an inordinate amount of time ‘teaching to the test’, and we are aware that several parents choose our school precisely because we do not place undue focus on standardized tests.