At Presidio Hill School, we believe that the purpose of assessment is to propel further growth. Teachers and students alike collect, evaluate and share information in order to guide decisions about the path of future teaching and learning.
These ideas are at the heart of the authentic assessment approach used throughout the Presidio Hill program. So what do we mean when we say authentic assessment? We mean assessment techniques guided by specific criteria.
Assessment should be aligned with the curriculum, with instruction. Rather than teaching to the test, this approach tests what is taught. Since the scope of what is taught may vary from year to year and class to class, the assessment tools must adapt to reflect those changes.
Assessment should be as free of cultural and social bias as possible.
Assessment should be comprehensive, assessing the spectrum of a student's learning experiences, including his or her social and emotional growth.
Ongoing, daily assessment is a powerful tool to further student growth and learning. Ongoing assessment allows for minor corrections and refined direction on a regular basis, avoiding the risk of veering off course. Educators call this formative assessment. At Presidio Hill, students are encouraged and expected to participate in class discussions on a daily basis. Small classes ensure that students do not "slip between the cracks," and that everyone is called upon to express and defend their thinking. Observant teachers take note of which students are displaying an understanding of the material at hand and how well they articulate that understanding.
Looking for high-level thinking and sophisticated conceptual understanding when assessing student work leads to less memorization-only learning.
Authentic assessment encourages student self-assessment. Involving students in the assessment process eventually frees them from the need for adult supervision of their work. They learn what they are capable of and what they need to do to give their best.
Good assessment practices allow for multiple solutions (where appropriate) and multiple approaches, and tap into the multiple intelligences of students. Observing both divergent and convergent thinking gives a more complete picture of a student's capabilities.
At Presidio Hill, we also believe students' progress and development should be measured against educational criteria rather than the work of their peers. Teachers create these criteria, or benchmarks based on their knowledge of the developmental stages of childhood, as well as national and regional standards. They then report to parents the student's progress relative to those benchmarks.
This, in effect, means that all students can experience success and enjoy continued learning. Some examples of authentic assessment at Presidio Hill include: Student Portfolios, Physics Demonstrations, Readers Theatre and Promotion Speeches.