Two times a year, teachers sit down and write narrative assessments about each child. The hope is that these narratives give parents an accurate and detailed picture of their child's educational journey. The assessments are just one of the ways to get a better understanding of your child's progress. Through out the year, teachers also give general information about the classroom activities through "weekly summaries" and blog posting. Twice a year, parents and teachers sit down for a conference to discuss each child's individual progress and look at the work they have produced. There are also, of course, casual conversations at the beginning and ends of the day, as well as, emails to keep updated as to how a child is doing at home and at school, any concerns that arise, and celebrations of successes.
The written assessments, that are coming out soon, are based on observations and work that your child has done since the beginning of the year. In early elementary classrooms, teachers use The Work Sampling System* as a base for their report writing. This system, that was developed by a group of distinguished experts in the field of Early Childhood Education, looks at the social/emotional development of children along with their academic development. The system focuses on personal and social development; language and literacy; mathematical thinking; scientific thinking; social studies; the arts (fine arts and music); and physical development. Since Summers Knoll is unique from many schools in that children start Language study in Kindergarten, Language sections (Latin, French, and Mandarin) were added to the document.
Teachers are constantly observing and evaluating what and how children are doing. Since class sizes are small, teachers get to know children well. Some observations are informal for example: teachers observe how children enter school each day, how they react with each other during snack time, how they play together on the playground, how they approach a math problem, and what types of books and activities they choose. From these observations, the teacher develops and guides the curriculum for the class to meet the group's and individual needs. The observations are also used, along with work samples, to develop the assessment reports.
In the first and second grades, teachers also use some more formal tools to assess children's progress. In the Singapore Math system, assessments are given to children when they finish a math book. For reading, the QRI (Qualitative Reading Inventory) is used at least twice a year to assess children's reading levels. These "tests" are not used to give to provide "grades" or "pass/fail" marks, like in some educational systems. These "testing" tool are used to track a child's progress, note strengths, and discover challenges, in order to assist children to continue to be successful. The results of these tools are included in the mid-year and end of the year assessment reports.
When you receive your child's assessment in February, I hope you will take the time to read it, and recognize your child's teachers efforts to know your child, and celebrate in all that your child has accomplished already this year. If you have any questions about what is written, don't hesitate to ask for clarification.
*"The Work Sampling System (WSS) is an authentic, performance-based assessment that teachers use to document and evaluate students' skills, knowledge, and behaviors."