Camino believes in an authentic assessment practice that must always be grounded in scientific observations of the child. Our Montessori trained teachers believe that authentic assessment must reflect the development of whole child–cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and spiritual—regardless of disability, learning challenge, or other special education need. Our assessment process is grounded in our belief that there are multiple learning styles and ways of learning—we view each child’s intelligences, abilities, and characteristics as an inherent (and celebrated) aspect of our diverse community.
Teachers are responsible for ensuring each student receives lessons in all areas of the curriculum and that they meet the Common Core State Standards expectations for mastery. They are continually observing students, collecting data, and monitoring student success and difficulties. They are able to evaluate quickly and provide appropriate responses and/or interventions by adjusting their teaching and/or the learning environment to better meet the child’s needs and/or style of learning. Teachers are responsible for the input of all lessons presented, progress notes, student progress/mastery of learning objectives, and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) into our student tracking software in order to provide various reports to be used in the evaluation and assessment of their cognitive, social and emotional growth.
Assessment and evaluation of student work and progress is done in a variety of ways in the Montessori classroom. We believe there must be a balance between formative and summative assessment processes. In the Montessori classroom grades are not emphasized, however summative assessments are given at various points in order to add to the overall evaluation of the child’s academic progress.
Montessori teachers often use what is referred to as the 3-Period lesson to assess students after teaching a concept. The first period is the presentation of the concept to the child; the second period is the practice and follow-up work the child completes; and, the third period is when the child is checked for mastery of the concept taught. The practice period can vary in time depending on the complexity of the concept. Sometimes the practice period takes only minutes within the context of the lesson, or it can take days, or even weeks of practice before mastery is checked. The chart at the right illustrates the 3-period cycle (Teaching-Learning Cycle), and a triangle is used to quickly notate where the child is in terms of mastery. The first side of the triangle represents the lesson or presentation was given; the second side of the triangle indicates the lesson was given and the student is currently in the practice phase; and the third side, or enclosure of the triangle indicates mastery has been achieved for the given learning objective or skill. Throughout the 3-period process the teacher is observing and evaluating how the student is doing, and they are able to monitor and provide support and/or additional instruction where needed. Data collected from the 3-period lesson often provides more accurate summative assessment, because the teacher can see precisely where the break-down in learning occurs.
The illustration to the left presents a web of our “authentic assessment” process. Formative assessments include teacher observations and anecdotal records, student portfolio samples and artifacts of work, student & teacher created rubrics, peer & self evaluations, individual and group projects & presentations, etc.
Summative assessments include both teacher made assessments, and standardized assessments, such as summative screening and diagnostic assessment tools used to establish benchmarks and track progress in the core academic areas of math and reading, as well as the required norm and criterion referenced assessments (i.e., AIMS, and Stanford 10).
At the beginning of each school year, and at regular intervals throughout each year, teachers will administer, record, and monitor scientifically based diagnostic assessments in reading and math to measure student progress toward mastery for reading and math benchmark targets. Student progress will be monitored by comparing baseline data to ongoing diagnostic data, teacher observations/assessments, and student’s portfolio of work to determine performance growth, strengths and weaknesses as they relate to mastery of the CCSS for reading and math. All assessment information (formative and summative) will be used to assist in establishing new learning goals and outcomes objectives. The Director will ensure these procedures are followed by checking in with teachers as part of the routine staff meeting process.