Home Program Assessments
As a progressive school, Park Day strives to create an environment where students can dream big, take risks, and innovate. We use standards-based skill assessments, and do not give letter grades nor administer standardized testing. Our focus on deep engagement and content, rather than teaching to the test, creates a culture where intrinsic motivation is paramount. While skills in math, spelling, and other foundational building blocks are assessed in part with quizzes and paper assessments, the focus is on effort and understanding. Each student’s personal development is paramount, and their ability to assess and take charge of their own learning is the desired outcome.
Park Day’s focus is on comprehension of the subject matter and the critical thinking that follows. Instead of focusing on a grade or ranked outcome, we strive to create an environment where students can maximize creativity and thoughtful analysis. Feedback comes in the form of carefully scaffolded self-assessments, direct conversation with the teacher, peer workshops, and/or notes and comments in written form. Students are encouraged to revise and improve their work at every stage of the process.
“Over the past century, progressive schools have put a lot of effort and attention into developing effective alternative forms of assessment. Instead of the one-size-fits-all standardized exams… Park Day School instead favors the sorts of evaluation supported by research and described in the landmark National Research Council report How People Learn…assessments that provide students with opportunities to revise and improve their thinking, and help teachers identify problems that need to be remedied.”
-Excerpted from Loving Learning: How Progressive Education Can Save America’s Schools by Tom Little
Educators send home comprehensive written assessments twice a year. These 12-16 page documents detail student understanding in each subject area. If a student is struggling, teachers will reach out and communicate with a family in order to partner in support of a child’s learning in advance of any formal feedback.
Teacher conferences are held midway through the term, twice a year. Beginning in the spring of 2nd grade, students take part in helping lead these conferences. They share their own comfort, stretch, and challenge areas while outlining personal goals.
As students are acquiring initial foundational skills in math, spelling and literacy, regular assessments (problem sets, quizzes, and in-class assignments), play a key role in helping teachers understand each student’s development. The emphasis on these learning outcomes is on how a student can improve, rather than on any associated numerical score.
A “just right” reading approach is used to guide our youngest students as they first discover and become independent readers. In grades K-2, leveled reading assessments are administered throughout the year to ensure students are being supported in a way that helps them find success. Reading assessments continue in the upper grades until mastery is attained.