Assessment Doesn't Translate to Standardized Testing


by Lawren Haech


As Montessorians we know that true and authentic assessment does not involve standardized testing, and over the years we have become known as that group of teachers that often stand up against standardized testing. We know and believe in our hearts and souls that if our students are left alone to learn they will shine. Nonetheless, we do not live in a vacuum, we are well aware that the reality is often very different; after all Dr. Montessori herself had to prove that what she was doing in the original Casa, produced measurable results.


For many Montessori teachers who teach at a public or charter school, showing and proving that our students are learning and mastering the standards that have been set forth is not an option. Therefore, how we view this dichotomy between testing and daily learning ultimately dictates how we run our classrooms. Do we give in and try to teach everything based on what might be found on the test, or do we do what we do best -- ensure that our student’s creative thoughts, high level thinking skills, and higher executive functions are effectively utilized? Do we have enough faith in the Montessori pedagogy that all the learning that is taking place in our classroom will ultimately translate to the accurate scores?


At some point in history, a few large publishers got together and decided that the best way to show mastery of concepts was to do so by filling in bubbles on a sheet of paper. The fact that standardized tests equal money is a fact that has been argued for decades, but this is not what this article about.  What we are going to discuss is the idea that assessment involves critical analysis, active reflections and recalling of experiences, and information processing. It falls on us to find ways to show that our children have mastered knowledge, on a daily basis, not just during designated periods in a school year. Effective assessment of knowledge is a continuous process. Above all else a Montessori teacher is an observer. Each teacher who has mastered the art of observing will know exactly where each student is. Every interaction, every task card that is completed, every research question is translated into a split second assessment that translates to a better understanding of how that individual student may continue in their own growth.


At some point in history, a few large publishers got together and decided that the best way to show mastery of concepts was to do so by filling in bubbles on a sheet of paper. The fact that standardized tests equal money is a fact that has been argued for decades, but this is not what this article about.  What we are going to discuss is the idea that assessment involves critical analysis, active reflections and recalling of experiences, and information processing. It falls on us to find ways to show that our children have mastered knowledge, on a daily basis, not just during designated periods in a school year. Effective assessment of knowledge is a continuous process. Above all else a Montessori teacher is an observer. Each teacher who has mastered the art of observing will know exactly where each student is. Every interaction, every task card that is completed, every research question is translated into a split second assessment that translates to a better understanding of how that individual student may continue in their own growth.

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