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 Third through Eighth-graders.
We also use Criterion-Referenced assessment methods, 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” at the Primary level (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, symbol, and perform basic mathematic operations); spelling tests at the Elementary and Middle School levels; homework and sight word flashcards at the Primary and Lower Elementary levels; and 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, Geography 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 are learning and progressing, 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, and trips to Cal-Wood Learning Center. Rubrics are often used in authentic assessment methods that are 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.
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