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Student Evaluation and Assessment at OFS

"When someone is taught the joy of learning, it becomes a life-long process that never stops." - Marva Collins

At Oneness-Family School, we recognize that students are on a journey all the way from preschool to college readiness. Assessment of student progress at our school looks different at each stage of growth. At younger ages, students demonstrate their knowledge directly to teachers using the educational materials in the classroom. As students mature in the lower and upper elementary levels, they display their learning in more visible forms such as written assignments, student projects, and oral presentations. Students are also exposed to the process of testing, taking quizzes, theme tests, and national standardized tests.

From preschool through high school we aim for a gradual scaling up of testing and evaluation so that students become skilled and confident test-takers, without an inordinate amount of stress, and while also keeping the joy of learning and classroom engagement alive. We want our students to learn that testing and evaluation are a natural part of life—from the classroom to the workplace. We also want them to learn that peer-to-peer and self evaluations are a vital part of assessment, as they lay the foundation for being a self-reflective adult.

As a cutting-edge Montessori school, our goal at OFS is to prepare students for our complex and swiftly changing world. In order for our students to succeed in the world, they must acquire hard skills as well as adaptive skills. These twin goals are central to the design of our curriculum. The first two pillars of our curriculum, Academy and Self-Discovery, directly address these two domains of learning.

Although we want our students to become confident and capable test-takers, we make an intentional decision not to “teach to the test.”  Doing so would squeeze the life out of our curriculum, make teaching a chore, and dramatically diminish student engagement. It would result in a curriculum that is “a mile wide and an inch deep,” the opposite of the deep learning we aspire to cultivate. Oneness-Family School is an institution that values the exchange of ideas, celebrates curiosity, and believes the process of learning is equally important, if not more important, than a specific outcome.

With the scope and speed of global transformation and the rapidly changing job market, the definition of “college ready” is changing fast. While standardized testing and SAT scores remain important, ever more colleges are deciding to be “SAT Optional” or to not accept SAT scores altogether.  Other measures, such as a student’s record of community service, extracurricular activities, college essay, and self-presentation overall, are gaining momentum and importance. These changes are reflective of a slow but steady shift in how we as a society view student assessment. 

At OFS we lean towards the future by focusing academic studies on conceptual understanding, big picture thinking, creative problem-solving, interdisciplinary studies, critical thinking, and information literacy. We build adaptive skills through a strong emphasis on collaboration and communication skills, emotional intelligence capacities such as self-awareness and empathy, and leadership skills such as civics, ethics, and community building. This is the type of holistic preparation that has the best chance of preparing students for the challenges and opportunities ahead, giving them the abilities that today’s employers are looking for.

Over the course of our thirty year history we have seen thousands of students pass through our doors and go on to great success at college, pursue graduate-level programs, and launch successful careers. We take special pride in the quality of people they have become: conscious, caring, and courageous adults. 

In the end, the Oneness Way is about empowerment. We want to light the flame of intelligence in the mind and bring forth the goodness in the heart. We want our  students to appreciate the beauty of the world with gratitude. We want our students to follow their dreams, and to believe that their dreams are attainable if they work hard and stay true to their hearts. There is no test that can measure the life satisfaction of a self-actualized human being. But you know one when you meet them.

Thursday, December 12, 2019