Montessori educators view assessment as an ongoing, natural part of everyday classroom activity. Montessori called the process “scientific pedagogy”: observing the student and preparing the best environmental conditions for that student’s full development. It is the process of gathering information about a student for the purpose of assisting the student in his or her development. We do not focus exclusively on academic skills or intellectual development because we believe:
Each student is a whole being and each aspect of who they are and their daily experiences impacts on their development. To do the best job academically, we must do the best job in all other aspects.
Implementing any type of assessment will have an impact on the student’s experiences in the classroom. We do not want that to be a negative impact. We want to create optimum conditions for development and learning.
Therefore we choose the academic assessment tools we use carefully and thoughtfully considering both Montessori pedagogy and current research.
Academic Assessment Tools used at OMS
Observer’s anecdotal notes
Observation of Montessori materials as these are very visual
The ‘Three Period’ Lesson
A concept or activity is demonstrated to the student and the language is given. E.g. “This is the isosceles triangle.”
The student works with the concept, repeating or extending it. This period engages the student for an extensive period of time. The adult says, “Show me the isosceles triangle.”
The concept is mastered. E.g. When the student can answer the question: “What shape is this?” At this stage, the student is ready for the next level of work.
Self and peer reflection or assessment
Rubrics – itemized descriptions of what is expected in a piece of work (e1 and e2 level)
Work samples, portfolios (collections of work)
Student journals and regular, individual student/teacher meetings
Student/Parent/Teacher Conferences (Upper Elementary), Parent/Teacher Conferences (Casa, Lower Elementary), and other parent communications
Classroom tests: small quizzes in Elementary- spelling, French as a Second Language; at The Element – knowledge and skill based tests
Norm Referenced, Standardized Test of Achievement, CAT 4 (Canadian Achievement Tests, 4thEdition) for Grades 2 and older, given in October
Norm Referenced, Standardized Tests (The CAT Test)
Norm referenced – A student’s results are compared to those obtained by the large representative sample of students across Canada that took the test when it was created.
Standardized- All children are given the same opportunity. The test is given in the same way and with the same time limit and graded against the same ‘norms’
The CAT4 tests mathematics, reading, language skills, and spelling.
We use the CAT4 as a tool to confirm our observations of each child.
We use the Canadian Achievement Test (CAT4) because it:
Is short, requiring only 4 hours of time split over 3 days
Requires no lengthy preparation of students
Gives results in basic math and language skills
Is used by majority of independent schools in Ottawa
We administer the CAT4 annually at the end of October beginning in second year of Lower Elementary (Grade2). The CAT4 takes the students about 4 hours which we spread over 3 days. We send the students’ answers off to be scored and we receive results about students’ basic math and language skills.
We share the results of the CAT4 test with our families at the November Conferences as a small part of our review of a student’s progress. We use the results as a tool to help inform our work with the student for the remainder of the year.
The majority of assessment of a student’s academic progress is done on a daily basis through a wide variety of observations and through discussion with the student. Testing is a very small part of the academic assessment. Using a wide range of assessment techniques allows for an overview of the student as a whole person, rather than simply focusing on the academics in isolation.