It is a teacher’s job to know how each child in the classroom learns and what each child in a classroom understands. This knowledge is used to craft instruction for each student. Assessment is important and continuous. Our teachers need to be master “kid watchers,” gleaning information from informal conversations, daily work, and more formal tools such as reading running records, spelling inventories, and math interviews.
We believe that multiple-choice tests are a poor measure of a child’s understanding. At best, such tests provide a single snapshot of a child on a given day and the results from such tests, often delivered to the school in the form of a single number many months after the child took the test, provide no usable information for curriculum development.
Our teachers assess students daily with a variety of formal and informal tools. Often that information is used immediately to make adjustments to a lesson already in progress. Every lesson we design has opportunities to develop a concept further or reinforce understanding with simpler examples.
All of these assessments are used to write two narrative reports for each child—one in January and one in May. In addition, children, parents, and teachers meet in September to set goals for the year. Children are involved in their conferences and present their learning using a portfolio at conferences.
Self-evaluations are used to help children identify their own strengths and opportunities for growth.
Prairie Creek Community School participates in the annual Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, a series of state-wide standard tests in various subject matters that measure certain aspects of students' academic skills. Our third and fourth graders take part in the MCA reading and math tests, and our fifth graders in both of these areas plus science. Testing days are in the spring. All students complete the Math MAP NWEA assessments in the fall. More information about the testing calendar and MAP/MCA can be found on the assessment calendar link here.