Because Montessori believes in individually paced academic progress, most schools do not assign letter grades or rank students within each class according to their achievement. Student progress, however, is measured in different ways. At the Montessori School of Westminster, parent/teacher conferences are an integral part of the program and are held regularly throughout the school year. Examples of the student’s work are reviewed, and teachers offer their assessment of the child’s progress. Teachers will report to the parents on the child’s social development and mastery of fundamental skills. Upon reaching the Middle School level at MSW (grades 7, 8, and 9), students may participate in conferences.
Communication is key in a Montessori program. Attending conferences and alerting teachers or other staff when a child faces a difficulty or change within the home environment that may affect the child’s school work and experience is expected from parents. Because many Montessori students spend more than one year with a Montessori teacher, a sense of family evolves in the classroom and the teacher knows the child very well.
At MSW, parents attend classroom observations to view their child at work within their Montessori classroom. Scheduled throughout the year, these observations last about 45 minutes and are followed by a brief one-on-one conversation with the child’s teacher in a quiet setting. This allows the parent to see the child functioning in the classroom and immediately thereafter have questions about the child’s school work day and progress answered.
The Montessori School of Westminster encourages partnership between the student’s family and the school in many ways, and those families who fully engage with the school will understand their child’s role as a developing Montessori student.
Adapted from “The Montessori Way,” by Tim Seldin & Paul Epstein Ph.D., published by the Montessori Foundation, 2006.
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