child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination, yet goes on to caution against digging up those carefully sown seeds in our quest to measure learning. The Traditional Approach In conventional elementary school, the speed at which a child is moved from the first period to the third period can be dizzying. This is long division… do 10 problems for homework… test on Friday… move on to next thing. This approach presents much material out of context, ignores the natural rhythms of the child’s mind, confuses rote practice with actual learning and offers a very one-dimensional, shortterm approach to measuring learning. A Closer Look at Standards Cognitive science shows us that children need context and core knowledge in order to learn effectively. A curriculum that emphasizes foundational knowledge and core skill development is essential for success. At Mountaintop Montessori the faculty has developed a list of learning standards based on the Montessori curriculum, the National Standards and the Virginia State Standards. These standards are called the "will be exposed to"s (or WBETs) at Mountaintop and they identify the required lessons presented to students during the elementary years. In order to maximize the power of the second period it is critical to understand its importance to genuine learning. The most important component for a successful second period is TIME. Time is the unique gift offered to the Montessori child. This stage of learning must not be rushed as it can play out over the course of hours, days or even years. The Third Period and Assessment Montessori teachers observe, record and evaluate student work on an ongoing and individual basis. Mastery or achievement is noted when a student can independently demonstrate the use of a material, achieve the expected outcome or answer, teach a concept to another student, verbalize the knowledge or process, or produce a work or product that demonstrates comprehension or skill acquisition. Meaningful assessment takes two approaches. It can be formative, which is process oriented and guides instruction strategies and individualized lesson plans for students. It can also be summative, which provides a means for evaluating if the educational process is succeeding, both for individual students and the community at large. Assessment measures whether and to what degree objectives have been accomplished, true learning has occurred and the environment promotes work and learning. Feedback informs the student, the guides, the parents and the school-wide community. The Montessori approach, with an emphasis on the importance of the second period, avoids the pitfalls of traditional evaluation. The anxiety associated with high stakes testing does not occur. Rather, it is the 65