Student Assessment & Letter Grades
In the design of The Project School, the Founders made an intentional choice to forgo the assigning of letter grades in the student assessment process. Instead, our teachers are comprehensively assessing - on an on-going basis - our students' work and growth as readers, authors, mathematicians, artists, scientists, and community members. As part of this assessment, our teachers meet regularly and individually with each student (multiple times each semester), as well as together with students and their parents/guardians (a minimum of 2 times/academic year).
Student and parent/guardian voices are integral to both the goal setting and assessment process. Required family conferences take place in the fall and the spring, but teachers are always available to meet with parents/guardians throughout the year as needed.
Because The Project School is a chartered public school in Indiana, we are required by both state law and by our charter authorizer (Ball State University Office of Charter Schools
) to administer standardized tests. Annually, we administer ILEARN
to students in grades 3-8, IREAD
to students in grade 3, and NWEA
mathematics to students in grades 3-8. All students also participate in a BAS
(Benchmark Assessment System for literacy) once or twice each year, depending on individual student need.
Standardized assessment serves as one of many tools to provide data for helping us to best support students as individual learners, as well as to understand overall academic trends. We never wish for our students to feel judged based on the results of their standardized test scores. Test scores represent only one very small component of the myriad ways in which we can best assess and support our students.
Additionally, The Project School feels very strongly that standardized tests should never be a driving force in the design or implementation of curriculum. We will never "teach to the test." Rather, in the days just leading up to a standardized test, we engage with test taking as a genre, just as we teach other genres of literature. We believe that helping our students to acquire positive, stress-free, general test taking strategies provides them with a tool for life.
The result of our students' Indiana standardized test scores is validation that our compartmentalized strategy for talking about and teaching test taking is effective and positive for our students. Although we believe that the Indiana score for our school does not define who we are as a heart-mind-voice program, we are pleased that our school regularly receives high scores from the State of Indiana based on the standardized scores of our students.
Read more about The Project School's philosophy on standardized testing in this "Huffington Post" article, which highlights our school as a model for a positive and successful alternative to year round test prep.