There are no grades or report cards. Nor are our students incentivized by other types of extrinsic rewards or competition. Furthermore, while classroom quizzes and tests are given, there are no standardized tests or standardized grading systems. At PLS, we place more value in developing a deep understanding of each child and assessing their own personal progress than rigidly comparing them to a national norm or even to their peers.
That said, student assessment is an ongoing and all-encompassing venture at PLS. We evaluate students’ progress on academic, social, and emotional levels throughout the year through goal-setting conferences, written evaluations and frequent informal contact between parents, students and teachers. The strong relationships between staff and student allows for a deeper understanding of each child and how they are developing from their younger to older selves.
In terms of assessing students’ understanding of academic content, each staff member creates their own series of rubrics that track students’ progress from Fall to Spring. Many of these assessments are project-based in nature and include a presentation of what the child has learned. These projects are often followed up with a student self-evaluation as well as group feedback of the process and/or product. As students progress towards Junior High, they may also take quizzes and tests that assess their understanding of content. Throughout the year teachers maintain regular formal and informal communication with families regarding their child’s academic development.
As importantly, our students are active participants in assessing their own academic progress. Staff encourages students to use their voices to speak about how they feel and what they need to succeed. Throughout the year students are challenged to write and hold themselves accountable to their own goals. Students participate in conferences three times a year with their parents/caregivers and teachers to share their progress.