“From deep contentment comes the courage to achieve.” ~Alfie Kohn
Why put this quote under assessments? Because children need to feel part of any assessment - connected to the teacher, safe to make mistakes, and intrinsically motivated in a learning process.
Children learn and develop at their own pace. The myth that each child can be taught in the same rote fashion leaves many children confused, resulting in academic gaps which must be filled in as adults, or are never filled in at all. There is no longer any question that there are many ways to learn (also called multiple intelligences). Each child has a way of learning that works best for him or her. Running River teachers engage those different learning styles.
Teachers spend one-on-one time with each child, and pay close attention to their learning styles and progress in all academic areas. Teachers at Running River work to understand the needs and development of each learner through observation, verbal interaction/conversations, working with parents and specialists when necessary, and by looking closely at every child’s work.
There are children who require outside support from specialists. Teachers will recommend outside testing to assess learning challenges when necessary. Running River works regularly with several specialists who meet with the staff throughout the year. The staff also does training and workshops in all academic areas.
We understand that parents want and need to know where their children stand in relation to students in public schools who go through standardized testing, as well as in relation to the Common Core Standards. For this reason, we have put into place the following assessment program:
Each academic area has goals based primarily on Common Core Standards. Click here for K-5. Click here for middle school. Assessments are made in each subject according to the program being used. For example, in math there is a pre-assessment for each unit to make sure a student is placed in the appropriate level. There is also a post-assessment after each unit. Science and Theme use both written and project- based assessments. Language Arts focuses on quality of the work and rubrics starting in 2nd grade for students to self-assess, and then for teachers to assess. Students also set goals at the beginning of each semester, and then assess those goals with the teacher throughout the semester.
This dynamic process of assessment allows students to be fully involved in the evaluation of their work. This is critical for self-motivation and growth that develops from a love of learning, rather than for an external reward (or punishment) that can tend to disconnect students from full engagement and taking responsibility for their work. There is almost no greater satisfaction than the pride and confidence that comes from pushing oneself to do high-quality work.
There are no grades at Running River. Conferences are scheduled three times a year, and can also be arranged whenever a parent or a teacher feels there is a need. Children present work to their parents in the conferences. All children have portfolios that are worked on throughout the year. The students and the teachers together choose the work that goes into the portfolio based on a list of requirements from each subject area. The students present these portfolios to their parents every spring. In addition, the teacher writes reports on all academic areas as well as the Arts, P.E. and the Emotional/Social arena.
In addition to conferences, there is a parent night each semester. Each class presents work to their parents and parents are also engaged in an activity that the students lead. There is a science fair for the middle school class in the spring.