Assessment Methods: Montessori Assessment Practices Assessment follows planning and instruction strategies to provide 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. Assessment practices fall into four general categories: • • • • Student performance compared to other students (norm-referenced standardized tests) Student performance compared to established outcomes (criterion-referenced tests) Student performance and progress with a particular skill (outcome measurement) Student performance in relation to his or her own capabilities (authentic assessment) Montessori relies for the most part on authentic assessment practices. Montessori Assessment Tools Good assessment allows every constituent of a school community to witness a child's progress. In order to be relevant to the child, assessment should accomplish these objectives: • • • • • • • Help students learn by providing non-judgmental feedback about HOW they learn Provide feedback that guides can use to improve classroom practices Easily integrate into classroom life by flowing naturally from the work of the students Relate to what has occurred in the learning environment over time Use a variety of measures and a variety of methods Unite guides, faculty, parents and peers in each student's assessment Be flexible so as not to dominate the curriculum or child-centered learning environment Authentic Montessori Assessment Authentic assessment recognizes the importance of the process students undergo in learning new concepts. It encourages guides to document and appraise the manner in which students represent, reorganize and utilize new information. The focus is less on the product and more on the process and performance. When students use any variety of materials and manipulatives to learn or practice a concept, they should have those same materials available to them during evaluations. Observation Montessori guides are trained in observing as an art form and they understand which indicators are significant to a child's progress. Mountaintop guides engage in formal and informal observations each day and during a variety of activities including lessons, spontaneous work choice, individual and group work, unstructured outdoor time, lunch and specialty classes. Data from observing an individual student as well as the atmosphere of the classroom provides the means for identify the progress and needs of each child and the whole class. 108