A Look at Formative and Summative Assessments in Montessori
Student assessments in Montessori schools are different from the assessments conducted in most traditional classrooms. However, contrary to a common myth about Montessori education, students do undergo assessments. The difference is that assessments are viewed as a tool for understanding where students are in their learning and where they should be going, rather than the strict, pass-or-fail process that is typical in traditional classrooms. Like other types of educational approaches, Montessori schools use both formative and summative assessments. Here is what you need to know about both of these approaches.
Formative assessments are the most frequently used kinds of assessments. They are used to evaluate a student’s progress at various stages of learning as they move towards a larger curricular goal. Through formative assessments, teachers can determine how well students are learning various concepts and skills through low-stakes assignments. In Montessori schools, formative assessments are constantly ongoing, and teachers perform them daily to determine each individual student’s mastery of ideas and skills. These assessments let teachers know when a student is ready to move forward with new material or if the current material needs to be presented in a different way to increase competency.
Summative assessments are designed to evaluate a student’s success at reaching a specific educational milestone, such as completing a unit of study. In traditional classrooms, these assessments typically include things like tests, quizzes, and papers that determine if students can move on to a new grade. In Montessori classrooms, summative assessments are simply another tool teachers have to determine where a student is in his or her education. These assessments don’t determine if students will pass or fail but rather help teachers understand what their students need.
Montessori education includes both accountability for students as well as permission for students to learn at their own paces without the stigmas associated with traditional classrooms. At The Montessori School, our classrooms empower students to embrace curiosity and be active learners. Are you interested in learning more? To reach our school in Allen, please call (972) 908-5055. To contact our North Dallas location, dial (469) 685-1732.