State Mandated Student Assessment at MPCS, A Member of the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education
As a member of the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education, we endeavor to be guided by the Core Principles for public schools bringing Waldorf Education. The curriculum that is taught supports the phases of development of the individual and the class or “the right lesson at the right time.” To align with our mission and vision, as a school, MPCS exercises the freedom allowed within the State and District to introduce content and skills to students at developmentally appropriate ages, using Waldorf teaching practices and principles.
As a public charter school, MPCS is required to comply with federal, state, and district policies related to standardized assessments in order to receive public funding and maintain our charter. Thus, we administer standardized assessments throughout the year as required. In addition, some special funding available to schools, such as READ Act funding, requires standardized testing as a prerequisite to serving those students in need of additional reading support.
Complying with these requirements can be a challenging balancing act for a member school of the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education. The standardized assessments do not always align with the timing of the lessons and content brought in a particular year within a Waldorf curriculum. Thus, we must keep in mind that the standardized test results provide one measure of achievement that, combined with other classroom-based formative assessments, including teacher observation, projects, and presentations, and portfolios, serve to provide a holistic representation of each individual’s progress and development.
MPCS standardized test scores illustrate what is often referred to as the “Waldorf Curve” where average scores in the lower grades are somewhat below State and District public school averages. In 4th and 5th grade, scores begin to rise. In 8th grade, scores are typically well above State and District averages. As a school, MPCS expects that graduates from our school will have achieved all district and state standards (K-8) and be fully prepared for success in any high school curriculum in grades 9-12.
The MPCS Assessment Overview contains a list of the standardized assessments for this year and indications regarding their alignment with our curriculum. The 2016-17 Assessment Calendar for Parents includes this year’s testing windows, however your child’s teacher will communicate specific upcoming testing dates for your child throughout the year.
Student Participation in Standardized Assessments
MPCS, as a public school, must administer standardized testing as required by Federal and State law. Federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, like No Child Left Behind before it, requires a 95% student participation rate in state assessments and requires states to factor student participation rates into their accountability system. Colorado policy holds districts and school accountable for meeting minimum participation rates in state assessments. Schools with low participation rates are noted in the school’s annual performance rating in order to provide transparent information that the assessment results do not reflect full student participation. Additionally, schools below 95% participation rates are required to address their low participation rates in their Unified Improvement Plan each year.
Please read the document regarding each standardized assessment given so that you are informed, as a parent, about student assessment. If you are considering excusing your child from participating in a state assessment, please have a conversation with your child’s teacher to be sure you understand the purpose of the assessment and how the assessment results support their work with your child. If you are fully informed and would like to excuse your child’s participation, you must follow the requirements for communicating this to the school as listed below.
Submit a letter, in hard copy form (not electronic), to your child’s teacher, that includes the following:
- The date
- Your child’s full legal name
- Your child’s teacher’s name and grade
- The name of the standardized test for which you are excusing participation, including the specific content areas being excused
- Your printed name and signature
** Note that a separate letter must be submitted for each standardized test being excused. One letter with several different tests listed is not acceptable. Each letter is valid only when one test (including specific content areas) is listed in the letter.
Should you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact:
- Your Child’s Class Teacher
- Maggie Payne, Assistant Director of Operations and School Assessment Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org)