Montessori education is based upon the fundamental principle of respect for the child. It is guided by close observation of each child, coupled with a deep understanding of the development periods each child will experience. Montessori philosophy takes the view that competition, reward and punishment are morally repugnant, ineffective, and work counter to intrinsic motivation and the positive development of children. Assessment regimes based on testing, grading and ranking students therefore do not, in our view, contribute anything positive to a child’s education. Grading and comparative reporting, which ranks a child’s achievement against the performance of other members of the class, is not compatible with Montessori philosophy and practice.
However, testing does have a role within the Montessori educational environment. When a children reach 12 – 18 years of age, their conscious minds are sufficiently developed for them to be able to use testing to assist their own assessment of their progress – but this continues to exclude competition and ranking. Hence criterion-referenced assessment, like the International Baccalaureate’s, can be of assistance to students, and may be used in an open manner with them. This is why The Montessori School’s Council chose the IB for its year 11 and 12 students: it was philosophically compatible with Montessori, especially as regards the exclusion of competition.
Avoidance of competition and ranking, combined with respect for the child and his or her individual privacy, means that a Montessori school cannot provide individual reports of grades or rankings throughout the formative years. Individual reports in the formative years are verbal and written, and express the teacher’s view of the child’s positive development in all areas, as well as providing an early indication of any areas of concern, and the steps taken and recommended to deal with any problems. In the IB years, individual reports will include an indication of the students’ criterion-referenced achievement to date, as well as verbal expressions of teachers’ views on their progress. Throughout the school, parents are encouraged to observe in the classroom, to discuss their child’s progress at any time with the teacher, and in general to maintain a close relationship between home and school.
The Montessori School is a small school – with 150 – 180 students from age 3 to 18. In accord with Montessori philosophy, the children are grouped according to their period of development, in multi-aged groups (3 – 6 years old; 7 – 9 years old; 10 – 12 years old; 13 – 15 years old, and the post-compulsory years). A child’s ‘peer group’ will include children at a range of ages and levels. When group numbers are small, and when children begin at age 3, and continue at the school to age 17 or 18 (some 15 years in the same small school), everyone knows them! They are easily identified by information which in other circumstances would not be identifying. Grading and ranking, as well as being against the Montessori philosophy, is also impracticable in such groups, and certainly impossible if individual privacy is to be preserved.
The Montessori School recognises that open and comprehensible communication of information to parents and prospective parents is essential for them to make informed choices for the education of their children. Our programme of information provision, both pre-enrolment as well as post-enrolment, is designed to ensure parents are fully informed about Montessori education in general, and our school in particular, both before deciding to enrol their child and throughout their child’s schooling as they decide to remain in the school.
In a Montessori School, parents and teachers work together to provide an environment in which children can be guided towards independence in all spheres of development – social, moral, physical, intellectual and spiritual.
As educators, we focus on the total development of the child and see parents as partners in the process of assisting children to develop their full potential. Communication between parents and the School is an essential part of this process. It enables a positive and productive relationship between the home and the School, with a focus on the needs of the child.
The Montessori School’s programme of assessing and reporting on student achievement is detailed, explicit and individualised, complicit with Montessori practice and philosophy.
Students are provided with immediate feedback on their learning through:
An assessment continuum is utilised:
Teachers observe the child at work, check all work done by the child and maintain careful records, both of lessons given and work completed. Teachers also make daily records, detailing the child’s work habits, attitude to work and social interactions. Progress in all areas is monitored and recorded against the Montessori National Curriculum.
Teachers assess the student’s progress and achievements against the Montessori National Curriculum, the Australian National Curriculum and the Western Australian Curriculum and Assessment Outline.
Teachers are available for brief discussions before and after school on an informal basis.
Teachers are available for longer discussion at other times by appointment. Parents should make appointments through the School office.
A mid-year reporting meeting with the teacher will be arranged for all parents whose child is due to move to the next group in the following year.
A formal reporting meeting with the teacher will be arranged for all parents at the end of each year.
The Montessori School administers the prescribed national assessments (NAPLAN) and distributes those assessments to parents at the end of the term in which they are received.
Written reports on the child’s development, including social-emotional development, personal attributes, capacities and well-being are made six times a year, in the student’s report book.
Mid-year and End-of-Year reports are written for all pre-primary, primary and secondary students and provide parents with information on student achievement using the School Curriculum & Standards Authority (SCSA) Judging Standards where these are available. The report statements for each area of subject describe achievement at the child’s year level.
All portable and written handwork is sent home with each pre-primary and primary student each term in a Work Folder.
A written International Baccalaureate (IB) Report is provided at the end of each term of IB studies.
The final report – the IB Certificate or the IB Diploma – comes from the IBO in January of the year following the students’ IB Examinations.