WE TEST HOW KIDS ARE LEARNING EVERY DAY IN BRILLIANTLY TESTY AND NON-TESTY WAYS.
Understanding how a child is progressing academically is essential to the process of learning. It is critical to the student’s growth, the teacher’s craft, and the parent’s peace of mind. At MSD, we assess a student’s progress in a variety of ways. We use Norm-Referenced tests which give us a snapshot of where a student is in relation to nationally-normed benchmarks. This type of assessment includes the DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) reading assessment that is given to all Kindergarten through Third grade students three times a year as well as the ERBs (Educational Records Bureau CTP 4 test) that are administered annually to all 3rd through 8th graders in late February. We use Criterion-Referenced assessment methods as well which are benchmark and curriculum based tools as opposed to nationally normed standardized tests. This type of assessment at MSD includes “Dot’s Yellow Box” (a box of materials which requires children to recognize and name numerals out of sequence, identify letters by sound and name, color, shape and continent identification as well as testing them on their ability to associate quantity and symbol and perform basic mathematic operations) in Primary, spelling tests in Elementary and Middle School, homework, site word flash cards in Primary and Lower Elementary, as well as assignment extensions in Upper Elementary and Middle School. Informal assessment is also used through teacher generated work as well as subjective observation, including Spelling Bees, peer teaching, asking a child to demonstrate a specific skill, or teacher observation of a student’s work cycle and product. The final piece that we use to assess how our students learning and progress includes all methods of authentic assessment including student performance-based assessment. Authentic assessment methods comprise self-editing, journals, student work portfolios, project-based learning like dioramas or science fair projects, as well as experiential learning including the historical simulations in elementary, Keystone Science Camp or trips to Cal-Wood Learning Center or Crow Canyon Archeological site. Rubrics are often used in authentic assessment methods that are a predetermined and mutually agreed upon set of criteria that students must meet.
Assessment is an on-going, dynamic process at MSD. We use varied methods to give us a full, more complete picture of both the child’s learning process as well as how proficient a child is at a given skill. Teachers keep assessment information confidential. Parents are given twice annual Student Progress Reports that are keyed off of MSD’s Three-Year Curriculum cycle so they are also able to monitor the child’s progress across curriculum subjects as well as the emotional and social growth of the child.