Assessment

We seek to develop and encourage a love of learning in our Middle School students, and our process for assessment reflects that.

Middle School teachers assess student progress and abilities in varied ways, from a simple question asked in class discussion to projects or exams that assesses skills, knowledge, and understanding. Eight times per year, teachers report student progress to parents. At the mid-quarter, parents receive a short checklist assessing learning and behavior. At the end of each quarter, teachers provide narrative comments on performance, progress, ability, effort, and attitude.

Narratives include comments, suggestions, and quantitative data. This process highlights a student’s strengths and accomplishments, and alerts parents/guardians and the student to weaknesses to be addressed.

A learning focus, rather than a grading focus, allows us to:
  • Appropriately challenge students. A single numeric average establishes an artificial upper limit to learning and growth; narratives have no such upper limit.
  • Encourage students to focus on their own strengths and weaknesses rather than comparing their progress to their classmates’.
  • Communicate student progress clearly.
  • See each student’s work in all the aspects evaluated each term rather than in a single numeric grade, which lumps stronger and weaker aspects of performance into an average.
  • Nurture internal motivation in students as they are encouraged to learn for learning’s sake.
Quantitative information, homework averages, quiz and test scores, are recorded and used to help evaluate the child's progress and ability. Parents are encouraged to read evaluation reports carefully with their child and to look for evidence that their child is developing skills and knowledge they value. For example, consistently submitting quality homework indicates that a child is organized, persistent, and careful; working successfully on a group project shows that a child is developing negotiation, consensus building, and leadership skills; accurately completing problems on a math test proves that a child has solid computational skills.

Narrative comments are the beginning of a conversation among parents, children, advisors, and teachers about a progress, abilities, attitude, and goals, not merely a summation of one quarter in a child’s life.

Eighth grade is considered a transition year between middle school and upper school. Eighth graders are enrolled in two upper school classes – math and language – and receive cumulative numeric grades in these classes in addition to narrative evaluations.

The comments are helpful in understanding what subjects /material are being learned and how our child is meeting academic, emotional and social goals. As parents, we can tell from the comments that the teachers are taking the time to really observe and understand our child. ~ Steve Ford, parent

The narrative assessments give a lot more detail about what my child is learning, his behavior, and expectations for his classes. It also shows me how well his teachers know him as an individual. I like the narrative assessments and appreciated the time put into writing them and what was documented. ~ Kathy Lindlau, parent
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