Informed by Standards, Not Driven by Them
The SGS educational experience is rich and nuanced, and so is our approach to assessing and reporting student progress. While teachers often use quantifiable measures like geography quizzes and math assessments to provide basic checkpoints, they also consider assessment to be an essential part of the authentic work teachers and students do together each day.
For each study and major project, our faculty takes great care in articulating the skills, understandings, and outcomes they expect of their students, guided by a deep familiarity with nationally considered standards, and of child and adolescent development. Teachers provide varied ways of both supporting those outcomes and assessing them. They closely observe students in the process of working, and carefully analyze their products, often with the help of rubrics designed to support students as they move toward the highest of expectations.
At SGS, we have never used letter grades. Our in-depth progress reports, sent home three times a year, provide a rich picture of our students’ strengths as well as their challenges. These comprehensive reports are supplemented by less formal assessment communications throughout the year, and ongoing feedback for students. We also work hard to develop each student’s capacity for honest and productive self assessment, with adult support. Twice a year, each student leads their parents and advisor through a personalized “Learning Team Meeting,” where students share important pieces of work and reflect on their progress toward self-chosen goals. LTMs put middle school girls right where they need to be: at the center of the conversation regarding their academic and social/emotional development.