A New Way of Reporting Student Progress
by Barbara Frailey, Assistant Head of School
How We Assess Students
The SGS educational experience is rich and nuanced, and so is our approach to assessing and reporting student progress. We consider assessment to be an essential part of the authentic work teachers and students do together each day. Teachers use a wide range of quantitative and qualitative assessment practices, and although we have never used letter grades at SGS, teachers do sometimes use quantifiable measures like geography quizzes and math assessments to provide basic checkpoints.
For each study and major project, our faculty takes great care in articulating the skills, understandings, and outcomes they expect of their students. Previously, we provided narrative reports twice each year to provide a big picture description of where a student’s strengths and opportunities for growth are with regard to these skills, understandings, and outcomes.
This year, however, we are switching from narrative reports to in-depth progress reports to provide a rich picture of our students’ strengths as well as their challenges. The progress reports represent a significant shift from previous years’ narrative reports. We are proud of this evolution of our assessment and reporting methods and think parents will find them even more informative. The new reports will be sent home three times per year and will be coordinated with Learning Team Meetings (LTMs).
At the heart of our reports is, and always has been, an earnest desire to “express the inexpressible”— to document each students’ journey over the course of their time at SGS. We have always wanted our reporting practices to mirror our teaching practices, to reflect what we value most, to foster the same growth mindset we work so hard to develop, and to capture each student’s growth and her individuality. At their best, our old narrative reports did a pretty good job at doing all those things. But students and parents consistently described the difficulty they had interpreting those reports, sifting through the text to identify answers to their most basic questions: Is my daughter learning what her teachers hoped she would? Do her teachers recognize her progress, and do they see what her next steps might be?
Last year, our faculty spent extensive time studying our own practices around assessment and reporting, and looking together at models from other like-minded schools. We came to the conclusion that we could create a more powerful tool for making our work, and student learning, more visible to students and parents, and we developed these new progress reports as a result. In addition to a brief narrative highlighting both areas of strength and opportunities for growth, they include a list of explicit benchmarks and a visual representation of how consistently, at this point, our students are meeting them. These benchmarks include skills and understandings specific to each course, and overarching skills in areas like collaboration and leadership, that all teachers are supporting. Think of these new reports as a peek “under the hood” of what always informed our narrative reports, bringing more clarity to the ongoing conversation between teachers, students, and families throughout the SGS journey.
Reaccreditation Update from Rafael
After a three-day visit to our campus, the Reaccreditation Visiting Team verbally shared a brief exit report that was very gratifying. The language of the exit report refers to SGS as "the very definition of a mission-driven organization" and an "educational gem" in the PNW community. I look forward to sharing the report as soon as NWAIS allows (January 2016 is the likely timeframe). In the meantime, some of the school's major commendations were:
- The school's mission and its daily manifestation of it in all we do
- Our innovative and dynamic curricular and co-curricular programs
- Our Advancement Model (Development, Enrollment, and Communications) and its outcomes
- Our diverse community
CAP News (Community Association of Parents)
It was great to see many of you at the all-school Pool Party at Rainier Beach on Saturday, October 3rd. A good time was had by all! Check out the photos at the bottom of the CAP page »
We have great line-up for the November 20th meeting (8:30-9:30 AM, Singh House):
- Preview from Rosetta Lee, SGS Outreach Specialist, on Gender Identity in Middle School
- Chat with Barbara Frailey, Assistant Head of School, on getting the most of your student’s LTM
- Review of updated CAP mission statement
- Review of Parent Education Plan and proposed topics
- Information regarding annual holiday gifts for teachers and staff
- Nov. 11 - No school, Veterans' Day
- Nov. 15 - Mentor Event, 1-3 PM at SGS
- Nov. 18 - Admissions Open House, 6-8 PM [Invite prospective families, registration through Ravenna]
- Nov. 23-25 - No school, Learning Team Meetings [LTMs]
- Nov. 26-27 - School Closed [Thanksgiving]
- Nov. 30 - No School [In-Service Day]
- Dec. 1 - Girls' Social Development Talk with Rosetta, 6-8 PM. Registration info here »
- Dec. 3 - Teaching Social Justice [SGS presents a series of workshops for middle school teachers], Wing Luke Museum. Info + registration here »
- Dec. 5 - Mentor Event, 1:15-3 PM at Sandbox Sports
- Dec. 8 - 5th + 6th Grade Sex Ed Info Night for Parents, 6-7:30 PM
- Dec. 12 - Admissions Open House, 10 AM - 12 PM [Invite prospective families, registration through Ravenna]
- Dec. 18 - Early Dismissal, 12 PM [No After Care]
- Dec. 21-Jan. 1 - School Closed [Winter Break]