At LePort, we try to always remember that tests are a tool to measure knowledge and performance. Tests are not an end in themselves. Actionable, applied knowledge is the goal, not merely a score on a test. With that in mind, our students in 3rd through 8th grade complete the MAP Growth test twice a year, once in fall (to set a baseline, diagnostic—this pre-test is not shared with parents), and once in the spring (to track growth over the year; results of this test are shared with parents). The MAP Growth test is an online, adaptive test, used by many Montessori and traditional schools (both public and private). In contrast to some other tests, which provide only an assessment of mastery vs. the child’s actual grade level, this adaptive test allows us to identify the grade level a child works at (e.g., a 4th grader advance in math may test at a 5th grade level). This type of standardized tests provide us as educators, and you as parents, with statistical data comparing your child’s performance in Reading, Language, and Mathematics with other children’s across the nation.
Our strategy at LePort is to instill, through exciting academic content and engaging motivated teaching, a true joy of learning, rather than to teach to the test. We measure our success by whether our students are able to grasp the crucial knowledge needed, and to develop in themselves the effective thinking skills and strong character that will aid in their enjoying life to the fullest. We believe the result of our strategy and goal—in conjunction with our invaluable partnership with caring, active parents—is knowledgeable children who can think clearly, who can write confidently, and who tackle new challenges with excitement. In other words, although on average our students score high on standardized tests, we do not feel that such tests are a very effective measurement tool for academic success. Specifically, they do not do a good enough job of testing true understanding of material or logical reasoning. Mostly what they test is short-term memory. For this reason, we do not make standardized tests a big focus at LePort. Instead, in each subject, we regularly measure our students’ knowledge and understanding with a range of tools, from presentations to essays, from oral quizzing to written assessments. But these assessments are never multiple choice, and often they require students to use their knowledge to solve unique problems and to offer explanations in their own words, thus ensuring they truly know what they know.