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Measuring Student Success

At Brookview, we believe that all children are capable, and that each child has his or her own unique strengths and interests. Our goal is to draw out of each child his full potential, inspire critical thinking, discourse and research, and develop wholesome relationships. Outcomes sought for students at Brookview include a sense of belonging, love of learning, independence born out of being truly capable, academic tenacity, respect for life, a growth mindset, resilience, global awareness, curiosity and self-direction.

Young children at Brookview work at their own pace, while continuing to be part of their social peer group. Infants are free to move and explore their surroundings. Toddlers assume responsibility for their own messes and learn to consider the feelings of others. Preschool age children explore all areas of academic curriculum, develop gross and fine motor skills, practice grace and courtesy, and strive for concentration, coordination, independence and a sense of order. Young children at Brookview, even infants, attend school—these are academic programs that address the individual needs of each child. The curriculum is carefully tailored to align with the very clear stages of child development. Montessori trained teachers at each level observe, record and report on social, emotional, academic, physical and intellectual progress.

School-age children follow the same model as the younger children. They have freedom of movement, they are presented a rich academic curriculum, they follow their interests, and they develop responsibility and work ethic, as is developmentally appropriate at each level. Montessori teachers give lessons to small groups of students who are academically ready, then discuss with the students the options for practicing the skill or material presented. This follow up activity is differentiated to meet the needs of each child. Progress is measured over the time frame of a three-year cycle. While teachers do maintain benchmarks for each level, progress is measured relative to each child’s capabilities and potential, rather than against his peers. To eliminate unnecessary competitive and judgmental atmosphere, Brookview elementary students do not receive grades. Rather, they focus on process work, compile portfolios of their work, and strive to improve the quality of their work over time. Brookview middle school students do begin receiving some grades, to ease the transition into traditional education in the future. Even at that, grades are not the driving force of education at Brookview, rather, the student is immersed in a stimulating, challenging, and fun environment of interesting subject matter. It is the experience that drives a Brookview student.

Tracking of progress and improvement at Brookview is multi-faceted, and is built into the natural rhythm of the school day. The following means of measuring success are used in a Brookview classroom:

Observation Teachers make both anecdotal, as well as more formal style observations. Montessori observation is a systematic melding of intuitive and scientific collection of data, and happens daily. Teachers observe whether a student is engaged with work, whether the engagement is with a Montessori material, whether the student is socializing and in what manner, the student’s reasoning abilities, his or her time management skill, the level of positive role modeling that is happening, when students help another, and when a child is requiring additional assistance. The greatest key to observation as a tool lies in the inherent assistance it offers to uncover a student’s need--which ideally leads to the inevitable solution, and individualized plan. This intangible aspect of Montessori theory, is a significant factor in the notion of individual approach and following the child.
Portfolio Student work is reviewed and saved either in student notebooks or by other means. This compilation of work demonstrates the knowledge gained, the improvements made over time, and the precise activity completed. The body of work goes home at the end of each academic school year.
Spot Checks Teachers review previously completed follow up work at the time of the next lesson in the sequence. Higher order questions are asked, problems are illuminated, and students feel both the excitement of sharing their work and the support of the group in discussing the concepts together. Teachers also move around the room during work time to answer questions, evaluate learning styles, assist with difficulty, redirect behaviors, and encourage.
Notebook Checks Periodically, teachers will sit down with one student, or a small group of students, to review recent work in the notebooks, and to converse with the student about his or her progress and the quality of the work. They look for degree of completion, signs of comprehension, as well as indicators of the need for repetition or advancement.
Daily Content Questions During various daily transitions, teachers ask simple questions as they dismiss students to the next activity. They might be simple math facts, spelling facts, or content area questions like, “On what continent is Ethiopia?”
Curriculum Checklists Teachers maintain records of the lessons presented, practiced and completed by each student, either on a paper document or an online record keeping program.
Informal, Periodic Spot  Check Quizzes Periodically, teachers will give a spelling or math fact quiz to assess the progress of the whole class, and to know where there may be general gaps of understanding. These are also useful for helping students to track their own progress, although we avoid over use of these tools, to discourage the negative aspects of competitive activities.
Standardized Tests Upper school students are offered the Stanford Assessment. Upper elementary and middle school students’ tests are scored, and third level students use them only as a practical life practice. 
Parent Teacher Conferences Twice annual parent teacher conferences, plus any additional meetings as needed.
Written Progress Report Year-end comprehensive written progress report – including checklists, and narrative description.

Parents want to know their child is working and learning, and yet most are accustomed to relying on a measurable score to determine the level of student success. Parents also often wish to know how their child stacks up compared to a student in public school. Some of these feelings arise from the same competitive spirit that we attempt to avoid, in favor of evaluating the student on his own merits, and encouraging him to work to his fullest potential. At Brookview, the relationship that is built between the teachers and the student, as well as between the teacher and the parents, allows for a much stronger opportunity for understanding. Rather than having to rely on a single letter or number as the indicator of the child’s progress, families receive a partner who will relay complex feedback, both data driven and anecdotal, to illustrate the success of the child. Teachers at Brookview are available to meet with parents, to display the body of student work, to problem-solve with parents any difficulties the child is having, and to serve as a comprehensive window into the life of the student while at school--as much or as little as your family requires. At Brookview, it’s the relationships that are built that make the difference.