I am engaged part-time at a small, independent, Reggio-inspired Episcopal school in the heart of Silicon Valley serving children in preschool through fifth grade. Our mission states, in part, [we] ‘value innovation and tradition.’ And in our quest to educate the ‘whole child, we inspire children to have an inquiring mind and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, and the gift of joy and wonder in the ever-changing world.’ (c.2010)
Early adopters of Novare’s Authentic Assessment Tool (AAT), we began to use it as our assessment and reporting platform in 2013 as our elementary program was beginning to take shape. We have found that Novaré’s AAT provides crucial flexibility as we align our assessment and parent reporting needs with the philosophy and growth of our organization.
An example of this versatility can be found in the recent upgrade of our semester report (i.e. report card). As an independent school our curriculum is guided by, but not strictly tied to, state and national standards (e.g. Common Core, Next Generation Science, C3 Frameworks). Previously, when attempting to assess student progress our educators found these sets of standards ponderous and overwhelming, and our parents found our ‘standards-based’ report difficult to interpret. We determined to simplify both the standards and the 4-point assessment scale. A cadre of motivated teachers synthesized the standards documents by combining critical ideas, simplifying the language, culling only the essential learnings appropriate to our student population, and reducing the assessment calibration scale from four to two (i.e. developing or consistent). That done, it was a simple matter to insert our new, home-grown sets of standards into the Authentic Assessment platform. An added plus are Novare’s artifact archive and digital portfolio features. Teachers and parents appreciate this multi-media corroboration of student learning and the dynamic repository of student growth over the years.
With our in-house refinement of standards transformed into developmentally appropriate and meaningful benchmarks, we made them accessible to our teaching staff. Ultimately, we have remained true to our Reggio-inspired philosophy of teaching and learning and have prepared a parent reporting document that clearly communicates student progress.
We have found that Novare Education’s assessment platform has the breadth, depth, and flexibility to serve our (indeed any) school population.