As a Waldorf school, we consider the individual student’s quest for wholeness and knowledge through the development of the faculties of thinking, feeling and willing. Teachers create learning opportunities through imitation, explicit instruction, repetition, storytelling, deliberate observations and discovery, self-directed learning and independent working. Each teacher at HWS makes daily observations of children’s interest level, skills level, work ethic, learning style and social interaction. Academic assessment is an on-going process for class and subject teachers who meet regularly to discuss student progress and share both successes and concerns.
Our assessments are qualitative and we work hard to ensure the richness of the Waldorf curriculum, without falling prey to restrictions and quantification. Our goals for assessments are holistic and broad ranging and are in line with Steiner’s developmental picture of the growing child. These goals are not just academic but also focus on artistic, emotional and physical development, individually and as a group. In addition to this rigorous daily observation of HWS students’ progress, we have certain check-points to assess the development of each child as they move through the grades. Formal assessment gradually increases as student’s progress.
Kindergarten children are assessed using an anthroposophical view of the child, to determine the degree of readiness for the grade school curriculum and structure. These assessments are done collaboratively kindergarten teachers and a Waldorf Educational Support specialist. Results go to parents and the rising grade one teacher.
During the grade two year, our Educational Support specialist meets individually with each child to assess and identify any physiological barriers to learning that might be overcome by strategies given to the class teachers, educational support, therapeutic support through Art or Eurythmy, or referrals to outside support (i.e. Developmental Optometrist, Hearing Specialist, Psychological Educational Assessment, etc.)
Academic Proficiency Checkpoints
All students from grade 1-8 receive an end of year report from their class teacher as well as from each subject teacher, which in narrative form gives a description of each student’s progress in every subject. In the upper grades; 6, 7 and 8, we also give parents a mid- term report assessing the student’s progress in all lessons in the winter term before the February interviews. Some upper grade teachers give reports to the students and parents at the end of each block.
Monthly updates are written to the parents from all main lesson teachers. Because quality is an important aspect of our work on all levels, we see parent communication as a helpful way to reflect the progress of the students in a general and anecdotal way.
In grade four, during the fall term, the class teacher assesses each child’s reading ability together with any other reading teachers of the class. Results are presented to all faculty. During fall interviews, parents are informed of discoveries especially if it is deemed necessary that extra measures need to be taken, such as additional help from home or outside tutoring.
In the early spring term of grade 5 the students are assessed to determine their readiness for the upper grades – 6, 7 and 8. These tests include components in reading comprehension, creative writing, spelling and numeracy. Another component involves specific observations from the class teacher.