As a public school we are obliged to assess students several times per year. It’s not entirely consistent with Montessori philosophy, but it is entirely consistent with public education.
As a private school MSC administered one assessment to 3rd Year Primary students through Lower Elementary, and another for Upper Elementary. We were administering these tests when I arrived at the school in 1998 and I never questions my predecessor why, but I always wondered. It’s too late to ask her now, but my guess is that it was a combination of response to parent questions and a check on the observations and assessments of Montessori teachers.
We are about to administer an assessment called the Measure of Academic Progress, or “MAP.” Most standardized tests measure how much a student can regurgitate knowledge from the State Standards (hence, the name). The MAP is different in that it compares the results of the test with the results of the previous test. This approach is very much consistent with the Montessori approach to the child: we care much more about where the child is academically and where he is going than how the child compares to others. We care more that the child follows her passions than that she absorbs what the state expects of her.
Another advantage of the MAP is that it is diagnostic, and offers suggestions to teachers of next steps.
The MAP consists of three assessments: math, language, and reading. 3rd Year Primary students take only math and language, while Elementary students take the reading assessment as well. Each component of the test takes about 50 minutes.
The upcoming MAP will be the baseline, and moving forward we will administer it three times per year.