strengths and challenges. Elementary and middle school progress reports include narratives on students’ development and their work in each academic discipline. See examples in the appendix to this section. Parent- Guide Conferences Twice per year, guides and parents meet formally to discuss the progress and behavior of their child. Meaningful communication helps teachers and guides build a school-home partnership that increases the level of effective learning. Older students are included in the conference. Notes are taken during conferences and kept in the student file. Norm-Referenced Testing A norm-referenced test contains items that sample specific academic skills within a content · area and derive assessment by comparing an individual's results to scores obtained by a large, non-clinical, same age/ same grade sample of students. The primary purpose of norm-referenced tests is to make judgments from expected responses and provide a series of reference· points for identifying the degree to which a student's skill sets differ from those of her peers. In the pre-K and kindergarten years in the Children’s House and in the lower elementary years, Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) testing is done twice a year to evaluate students’ literacy strengths and challenges. Mountaintop offers the Iowa Test of Basic Skills as an optional choice for upper elementary students and to all middle school students. The results are normed nationally with private schools. Criterion-referenced Tests Once Mountaintop developed WBATs (will be able to) for each age level, it became clear that an assessment needed to be crafted to ensure that children are achieving these benchmarks at the end of each 3-year cycle. Each level has developed assessment tests and checklists for the WBATs. Students are welcome to use materials or ask for adult help while completing these assessments. See examples in the appendix to this section. Conclusion Since individualized instruction is inherent in child-centered Montessori practices, both adaptive and interactive assessment are called for in a Montessori environment. Systems of assessment should incorporate risk taking, honor diverse learning styles and cultures, allow students to become an integral part of the assessment process, interpret results as a catalyst for reflection, and suggest approaches for furthering the development of the child. Authentic assessments include a variety of approaches that include elements of realism, relevance and a sense that assessment is instructive rather than judgmental. Authentic assessments align themselves with instruction so the process becomes recursive - assessment influences instruction and instruction influences assessment. 111