Chiaravalle teachers meticulously prepare their classroom environments to nurture their student’s physical, social, emotional, and intellectual needs. They carefully design their methods and materials to stimulate curiosity and engage children with diverse learning styles. Consequently, most students thrive in our environment.
We know students develop at different rates and learn best when they are working in the "sweet spot" where they are stretched to learn and master a new skill or concept, yet not overly taxed. Learning at their own optimal level. To plan and monitor differentiated learning for each child, our teachers use developmentally appropriate, authentic assessment at each level.
Authentic assessment is the best method of achieving our goal of cultivating confident, independent and passionate learners who engage in purposeful work. At the youngest ages, teachers take notes on each child's daily progress, observing levels of mastery, practice and challenge. As students move into Elementary and Middle School, there is the expectation of proficiency in academic subjects. Teachers track meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills through a combination of observation, student portfolios, assignment rubrics, work samples, verbal responses, and presentations. This careful monitoring of the child's ability to progress through the curriculum is augmented with targeted screening and limited formal testing.
Chiaravalle is thoughtful about implementing testing purposefully and in accordance with the Montessori philosophy and current best practices in cognitive science and education. Research-based assessment tools, such as the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), are used to screen for reading progress in Kindergarten and Elementary students (3 times per year). Acadience helps to monitor development of math skills in 3rd and 4th grade. Standardized MAP testing is used twice per year in Upper Elementary and Middle School. These tests are also utilized as one source of information that can inform program evaluation, instructional planning, and intervention considerations. Students learn test taking skills such as how to navigate the test format, how to analyze multiple answer options and how to stay calm during a test. Students in Middle School prepare for high school expectations by taking summative tests in core subjects, aiming for proficiency at an appropriate level for the individual student. Students are encouraged to view lower performance as an opportunity for learning the concepts they did not understand. Intellectual risk taking, deep learning and resilience are encouraged over competition or narrowly defined ideas of success.
Chiaravalle acknowledges that we live in a culture of standardized testing and grades. Currently, the political climate of education in the United States is driven by scores despite ample research indicating that testing provides a limited, often inaccurate view of student ability. In many cases, testing causes anxiety, narrows curriculum opportunities, and substitutes test preparation with deeper authentic learning. At Chiaravalle, test scores are viewed as one data point to be considered in the holistic authentic assessment model and test taking as a practical life opportunity for students to learn.
At Chiaravalle, we strongly believe in nurturing the whole child, both at school and home. Wherever they are, we want to encourage your child’s growing independence and individualized interests, while supporting their academic growth. We feel a child’s time out of school should be spent in two main ways. First, cultivating loving family relationships and a sense of responsibility to one’s family and secondly, having free time to explore and follow their hobbies and passions.
We would like to share with you some recommendations from Race To Nowhere:
Homework Should Advance A Spirit Of Learning
Homework should advance a spirit of learning, curiosity and inquiry among students or provide a unique learning opportunity that cannot be had within the confines of the school setting or school day.
Homework Should Be Student-Directed
This could consist of at-home reading chosen by the student, project-based work chosen by the student, experiential learning that integrates the student’s existing interests and family commitments or work that can be completed without the assistance of a sibling, caregiver or parent.
Homework Should Promote A Balanced Schedule
There should be time made for children to help out their families, with participation in daily life, through helping with preparing food, cleaning and taking care of younger or older family members. There should be an opportunity for children to understand their role and the importance of their contribution to the workings of their family
In Lower Elementary, here is what your child should expect for homework:
- Reading at home each day
- Daily math facts practice
In Upper Elementary:
- Reading at home each day.
- A weekly math skills practice sheet individualized to your child’s needs.
- Monthly practical life homework.
In Middle School:
- Reading at home each day
- Completing individual and group work assignments.
Sometimes a child’s strongest modes for learning are more difficult to capture; identifying and igniting them may prove to be elusive to the teacher. For these children, Chiaravalle has created a Learning Resources team. The Learning Resources team aligns its work with Montessori philosophy and pedagogy while striving to implement best practices in special education and supporting the school’s goals to promote equity and inclusion.
When a child displays a different learning style, their teacher may ask permission from the child’s parents or guardians to collaborate with the support team staff. The team partners with the teacher and parents to identify a child’s needs and enhance learning. The team often recommends in-class accommodations for the child. If a child struggles despite additional support, the school may request a formal assessment to understand the student’s learning profile thoroughly.
Chiaravalle has implemented a multi-tiered system of support that integrates data and observation into a problem solving process. The support team at Chiaravalle consists of a team of Learning Resources Specialists, an English Language Learner Teacher, a School Psychologist, and a School Social Worker. The Learning Specialists provide in-school services such as assessments, tutoring, and therapy to families.
We also have an on-site speech and language pathologist who provides in-house services on a private, contractual basis.