We believe that all children learn at their own pace, have individual interests and individual aptitudes. We do everything we can to offer our students a tailored education while reaching academic excellence. We see standards as ladders, rather than age-based benchmarks. When a student has accomplished one set of skills, he/she moves to the next within his/her own time frame. We are able to accomplish this with all of the elements of our philosophy as well as with careful consideration of academic content and strategic scheduling.
Instead of age-based grades, our students have the opportunity to attend skills classes at a level that fits them within each content area, while attending conceptually based classes at other points throughout the day with heterogeneously grouped peers. This strategy offers ample opportunity for skill improvement in basic skills as well as real world project based, experiential collaborative learning.
It is our view that state and national standards provide a rough framework or ‘scope and sequence’ for students. However, we see standards as one tool with which to guide instructional direction. We do not use standards to hold age groups back nor to push students to levels for which they are not ready. Further, when the standards don’t seem to fit, we modify based on experience, intuition, knowing our kids, and teachable moments. 🙂
Although we use many forms of assessments, including performance-based and project-based assessments, conversations with children, utilizing skills, and many more, we do not use standardized tests in our program. We see absolutely no value in testing our students on broad, irrelevant material. Our students show us they know what they have learned in various formats. In contrast, standardized tests would show us very little about their day to day progress, which we feel is much more important than a comparison to a national or state norm.