The purpose of assessment is to measure levels of current performance or aptitude, thus enabling a student to make additional progress with further instruction. Letter grades with little or no explanation neither identify the level at which a learner is working, nor inform that student on how to improve. We believe that rubrics offer a more authentic way to assess learning. A rubric has a descriptor explaining what is and is not present in the work. For instance, if the learners were creating a web page about an invention that they created, a score of “5” on the rubric might describe a web page with many pictures, an interesting layout, at least three different relevant links and correct grammar, spelling and punctuation; a “1” on the rubric might describe a web page with text only, less than two links, many misspellings and little editing. With these descriptors, the learner knows exactly how to improve his/her score mark. Rubrics for student, group or project-based assignments are made available to the parents so that they can understand how their children are performing throughout the year in various classes and on specific assignments.
Student assessment occurs at the School on a continuous basis as students and teachers constantly look for ways to improve learning on an individual basis for each student. As explained below, assessment will take place through “Observation of the Process of Learning,” “Observation of the Product” associated with particular instruction, and the learning strategies and assessment given in contextualized settings and decontextualized settings.
This type of assessment looks at work that the students produce without taking into account how she/he produced it. For instance, a final draft of a paper, a final presentation for a Science or Technology Fair or a videotape of a child publicly speaking or reading out loud can all assert that the end product was produced through the learning process.
This type of assessment relies heavily on teacher, student and parent observation. For instance, a teacher may notice that a student has a difficult time making verbs and nouns agree when writing. This obstacle may not appear in a final product as the writing process continues, but the observation about the child’s work is invaluable to assessing progress and the inherent difficulties associated with the effort to produce the product. This assessment may be demonstrated in a child’s reflection log or a teacher’s anecdotal notes and discussed during Academic Mentorship.
Assessment in this category reflects more traditional forms of assessing children (e.g., unit tests, math computation quizzes, vocabulary tests, etc.). These activities directly reflect what is being taught in the classroom (i.e. contextualized) and give a quantitative measure of the child’s knowledge and skills.
Decontextualized assessment takes place when learners are asked to perform tasks involving material that is not directly related to what they are studying in class. The data are typically quantitative and allow comparison of our learners and our overall program to children and programs in other schools. Some of these assessments exist and others still need to be developed by the staff and will be incorporated on an as-needed basis.