at St. Anthonys
Research shows that a focus on exams and grades alters the way students learn, making learning a means to an end rather than a good in itself. This contributes to a view of school as a necessary evil on the road to commercial success rather than a joyful discovery that forms the soul. In addition, student anxiety over grades and exams is on the rise nationwide, contributing significantly to the teenage depression/anxiety/suicide epidemic.
My vision of the future is no longer of people taking exams and proceeding on that certification from the secondary school to the university, but of individuals passing from one stage of independence to a higher, by means of their own activity, through their own effort of will, which constitutes the inner evolution of the individual.
—Dr. Maria Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence
With this in mind, we are striving to find a balance between avoiding a commercially-driven, standards-based education and a healthy determination of what a student has grasped and what she needs additional instruction in.
The root of the word "assess" is the Lain "assidere", which means "to sit beside". Our Guides actually do this as they practice formative assessment - sitting with each student, observing and evaluating as the student is learning. The Guides keep notes on their students so that they know what each one needs to work on and where each excels.
Although summative assessment may be used (students may be given quizzes/exams, oral or written, to assess their knowledge in a subject area), we refrain from handing out letter grades or allowing students to compare results. Emphasis is placed on honest, diligent work to the best of one's ability and the excitement of discovery; quizzes and exams are primarily for the teacher to know how to best direct her students.
Parent-Teacher-Student discussions & progress reports are held quarterly. Each teacher thoughtfully fills out a progress report for each student before each of the parent-teacher conferences. Teachers will keep records of work accomplished and translate a student's progress into a conventional transcript for use in the case of college application or transfer, and to assist parents who are used to the conventional grading system.
At conferences, students will also present work they have been doing as well as submit a portfolio of all work completed during that quarter.
St. Anthonys Academy does not grant diplomas, but our transcripts may be used by homeschoolers towards compiling the materials necessary for graduation.