Here is a schedule of assessment activities that we do at The World Learner School, with a bit of explanation about each:
MAP: WLS administers the MAP (Measuring Academic Progress) test, which is used by ISD 112 and a growing number of schools in Minnesota and around the country. The reasons are numerous:
- To coordinate closely with ISD 112 for the purpose of comparing and sharing data;
- To administer a test which is more closely aligned with the Montessori curriculum and the Minnesota State Standards;
- To use a test which is closely connected to learning and to guiding subsequent teaching, rather than a score-oriented once-a-year dramatic and sometimes stressful event;
- To be better able to organize and display our testing data in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes;
- To shift the medium for testing from paper and pencil to the computer;
The MAP test is administered in Reading and Math for all students in grades 1-8, most likely three times per year, in the fall, winter and spring. It is also administered in Science for grades 4, 7, and 8. The tests are designed so that each task is isolated on the computer screen; that is, the student will see only words and pictures that pertain to the task at hand. The format is multiple choice. The test adapts to the level of the student as he/she proceeds. You can infer from that that the student’s score is going to be more meaningful as a reflection of the level they were functioning at on the test, rather than a tally of right and wrong answers.
For more on the MAP test, visit this website: Northwest Education Association
GAT: Teachers may opt to administer, in the first days of school, a test that we have developed ourselves which we call the General Achievement Test for Measuring Achievement in a Montessori Environment, or GAT, for short. The purpose of administering the GAT pre- and post was to get an early reading on students’ skills, and target weak spots for focused work. We will still be doing early diagnosis of academic skills, but the GAT will be only one way in which that information is gathered. As a kind of parallel effort to continue early assessment which guides our emphases with each child, we will be working more from the teacher side, consolidating and coordinating the way in which we document which child has had which lesson, and the subsequent level of their mastery, among all the 1500 or so Montessori lessons there are for each teacher to give.
CONFERENCES: We consider conferences the mainstay of our reporting plan. Conferences consist of discussion of general performance, the portfolio of work, the student’s self-assessment, parent input (we have a form for parents to fill out ahead of time), the record of lessons given to the student, and test results.
MCA (specific grades): MCA is the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment. This is a standardized test required by the state. Currently, the MCA requires all 3rd through 8th grade students to participate in the Reading and Math Assessments and the testing mode is transitioning to a computer based model. 5th and 8thgrade students also are required to participate in the Science Assessment.
The tests are administered in March or April and results are delivered to schools and families in late summer. The scores are reported to parents in a format that compares their child’s scores with scores of other children at their child’s age/grade level in the state. This test is really a proficiency test, in that it measures general levels of skill in general skill areas. We practice for it, but the practice is in the format, not the content. The content of this test is meant to be so general that children from anywhere in the state should be able to score within the average if they have been attending school and learn at an average rate.
One asterisk on this test is that it doesn’t allow for spontaneity, and if Montessori children have rightly pursued their interest in an academic area, they may not have had much time for some other area. In our view, they might be well balanced, but on the test they may have weak scores in an area that they have acceptably made a lower priority. Of course, over time it is our responsibility to guide them toward a more thoroughly rounded balance of interests and skills.
Year-End Progress Reports: We report results from the tests as well as some general performance observations. These are mailed out after the end of the school year.
Minnesota Academic Standards The World Learner School is required to meet the academic standards of the state of Minnesota. The standards are the basis for much of the testing we do, including the General Achievement test we have designed for middle school students. Parents can access the standards by going to the website for the Minnesota Department of Education.
If you have any questions about assessment or accountability at WLS, the best source of information is your child’s teacher. For philosophical and technical questions about the tests, reporting formats, schedules, etc., feel free to contact Deana as well.