In standard educational terminology, assessments during instruction that lead to adjustments intended to improved results are formative assessments, in contrast with those made at the end of a teaching unit, which are summative assessments.
At the Hawthorne Valley School, formative assessments are an ongoing part of daily activities. Throughout the elementary grades, teachers assess a student’s progress through recall and discussion of content that’s been presented, assignments (particularly the main lesson book work) and participation in various activities. In the younger grades in particular, curriculum-related experiences are valuable in and of themselves; an experience may be a primary goal outside of any particular end or outcome and is a basis for assessment. Beginning in fourth or fifth grade, teachers may also use quizzes, end-of-block tests and / or homework to assess specific knowledge or proficiencies.
At HVS, summative assessments are conducted twice a year; parents receive a Mid-year Report and an End-of-year Report. These formal assessments are aimed at supporting further learning and are a benchmark on a continuum of learning as opposed to an endpoint. Each child is assessed in reference to curriculum standards and the assessments typically include references to the following goals:
- engagement in subject related activities;
- subject-related content mastery and skill acquisition;
- development in math and language arts;
- development of dispositions, capacities, and capabilities in all domains, including social skills
- artistic immersion and expression.
Individual parent / teacher meetings are instrumental in communicating about a child’s progress and participation. It is expected that a meeting occur at least once a year, typically around the mid-year report.
In addition to these formative and summative assessments, there are two other key points of assessment in the lower school years. In the early spring of Second Grade, the children are given a development assessment, a literacy assessment, and a vision assessment. The assessments are performed by class teachers and various specialists depending on availability. Parents receive a report of this assessment. Lastly, at the end of Fifth Grade or the beginning of Sixth Grade, an academic assessment (of math and language arts skills) is conducted by lower school teachers. This is an in-house assessment meant to determine if the class as a whole is meeting benchmarks stated in the curriculum goals.
For additional information about assessment in Waldorf school, HVWS recommends the book: Assessment for Learning in Waldorf Classrooms, published by Academica Press.