Assessment Policy

Principles of Student Assessment
Smith Academy Middle School
Academic Policies 2008-present

At the heart of all our actions and decisions is the goal of helping each student learn to his or her full potential. This is reflected in our instruction, assessment, and classroom policies.

Instruction and Assessment

Below is a description of the types of assignments that students will encounter in their core middle school classes (English, Math, Social Studies, and Science), and how we will assess and report student performance.

One important distinction we make as teachers is between formative and summative assessments. Formative assessments are those that we use to see how students are doing and adjust our instruction accordingly. Summative assessments are those we use at the end of a unit to determine how well a student understands the material. This year, we intend to collect and report information about students’ achievement on formative and summative assessments separately, so that we – and you – will have a clear picture what students know and can do, as well as whether their effort at home and in class is effective.

Formative assessments also provide a starting point for differentiated instruction. Differentiated instruction is not the same as "tracking" students into high and low groups. Rather, differentiated instruction is flexible and based on frequent informal assessments. Students in a differentiated classroom work on assignments that challenge them at an appropriate level. The pace of work may differ among students as well. All instruction, however, works toward the same goal: that all students meet (or exceed) grade-level learning standards.

Formative Assessments

Formative assessments we use include, but are not limited to informal observations of classwork, students’ participation in class and group discussions, and homework. We also use check quizzes to make sure students are where we expect them to be at a certain point in our unit. These assessments will provide important information about students’ effort and whether or not instructional activities and assignments have been effective for them. 

Summative Assessments

Quizzes, tests, and exams that show students’ understanding at the end of a unit or a part of a unit will be used to assess how well students have mastered the learning standards taught. Projects, such as writing, presentations, posters, and labs are also important summative assessments. Our learning objectives include not only the content standards of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, but also skills such as presentation skills, writing across the curriculum, data analysis, and research. For both content standards and skills, we will clearly define our expectations for students and teach them how to achieve them. Term grades will reflect our determination of how well students met those expectations on summative assessments during the marking period.

School & Classroom Climate

To create a positive environment in the middle school, we emphasize four guiding principles:
1) Be respectful
2) Be prepared
3) Work hard to learn
4) Take responsibility

We strive to model these principles at all times and teach students how to do the same. We honor those students who best exemplify these four principles each month as “Students of the Month.”