Elementary
At Friends School we want our students to develop the following qualities: 

      
Creativity, Critical Thinking, Resilience, Motivation, Curiosity, Questioning, Sense of Humor, Reliability, Teamwork, Enthusiasm, Civic-Mindedness, Love of Learning, Self-Awareness, Persistence, Empathy, Leadership, Self-Discipline, Compassion, Courage, Sense of Beauty, Sense of Wonder, Resourcefulness, Zest, Endurance, Spontaneity, Humility, Optimism, Social Intelligence, Grit, Gratitude              
     

It’s quite an impressive list.  As adults, there are likely several of these qualities where we believe we have an element of mastery - and many more where we are works in progress. 

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. 

However, at Friends, we do believe it is important to know how our students are doing relative to their peers.  We choose to use standardized achievement tests in our upper grades to guide our programming.  

By gaining an understanding of each grade’s results, we can identify the relative strengths and challenges of our curriculum.  The tests help us improve the quality of our program.
 
Friends School gives the ERB (Education Records Bureau) standardized achievement test annually to our 3rd, 4th & 5th grade classes. This test is nationally normed as well as normed to independent schools and suburban schools.  We believe it is important to introduce our students to what is involved in taking these tests, giving them practice for taking such tests after they leave Friends.  

We see these tests as only one of many ways to help us evaluate the work we are doing and the progress each child is making.
 
The ERB tests cover verbal reasoning, vocabulary, reading comprehension, writing mechanics, writing concepts and skills, quantitative reasoning, and mathematics.
 
More than half of Friends School's Graduates are placed in 7th and 8th grade Language Arts (60%) and Mathematics (56%) in 6th grade (statistics 2010-2013). 

In nationally normed standardized tests, Friends School students average 11 percentage points higher than suburban school districts (like BVSD) in math, reading, writing and reasoning, and 36 percentage points higher than national public school average scores.

Many of our parents are curious about how their child fares on the ERB test. When we give parents those scores, it’s important to us that parents are fully informed of how the ERB works and how the school use the results. We ask one parent to attend a brief overview presentation before collecting their child’s scores. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this overview of assessment at Friends and for understanding the place that standardized testing takes within our overall goals for our students.

As is always the case, please contact the school should you have any questions.
 

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