Teachers measure and document student growth almost daily across subject areas from academic and social/emotional standpoints to make sure each child gets the support and guidance needed to learn effectively and build on successes. This approach can have a dramatic impact on how children learn.
“In my experience, the biggest differences between grades and assessments are in how willing children are to solve problems and take risks,” said Kate Stoessel, a 2nd/3rd grade teacher who has taught in both progressive and traditional education schools. “When students get grades, they need a list of what’s required to get started on an assignment. They aren’t willing to take risks because they don’t want to get a low grade. But, without grades in the picture, they just get started, trying things and adjusting as they go.”
Rather than simply checking the boxes that concepts have been covered, High Meadows’ comprehensive authentic assessments help students identify specific areas to strengthen skills, celebrate successes, and develop stronger awareness of their abilities and potential.
“We are teaching skills that children will need for the 21st century,” Stoessel said. “They need to learn how to problem-solve and collaborate. They have to practice that. It can’t be assessed on a test.”
Feedback Shared With Parents
- Extensive written narrative progress reports twice a year
- Regular parent-teacher communication opportunities
- Student-selected portfolios for Kindergarten through Fifth grade students are presented during parent/teacher conferences to highlight the best of learning within each unit of inquiry
- Student self-reflection check-ins (beginning in Preschool) focused on learning goals specific to each child
Stoessel noted that having conferences before narratives are sent home gives parents, teachers, and students a chance to address academic or social/emotional needs. She also shared that being in multi-age classes helps students cement their knowledge.
“Students benefit from having an authentic audience to share their learning,” she said. “It’s a higher-level thinking strategy that helps them embed it. Presenting their work to other students, people in the school community, and family members also encourages them to double check their work. All of these are skills they need for the future.”
Learn more about the High Meadows progressive school approach here.