Assessment methods at Riverdale are something that we are constantly examining and developing. As a faculty, our goal is to create assessments that are authentic and diverse and that represent an intellectual challenge. Students write papers, take tests, and deliver oral presentations. However, they also lead lessons, meet lobbyists in Washington, D.C., and work in teams to create three dimensional mathematical models. We believe that memorizing conjugations is important, on occasion, as is writing a complex essay on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as is making a phone call in Chinese to arrange for a doctor’s appointment. All of these examples reflect our understanding that assessment cannot be done in any one way, and that learning is most effective when assignments are varied and thoughtful.
The Riverdale faculty communicate carefully with students about assignments and expectations and commonly use free periods (and lunches and before school and after school) to provide additional clarification and guidance. Inherent in the school’s assessment process is attention to the character strengths. Our most successful students are those who work diligently on their own, collaboratively with their peers, and thoughtfully with their teachers.
Assessment at Riverdale is both summative, assessing proficiency at a given moment, and formative, providing moments of evaluation so that students can gauge their performance in order to improve it. As one can imagine, effective feedback is an essential part of our assessment practices that offers our students the greatest opportunities to learn. Timely, focused, and rich feedback is a primary characteristic of our assessment strategies at Riverdale. Our assessment work, our academic policies, and our professional development opportunities are all aligned in making the school a leader in how we craft our learning spaces and how we assess student learning.
Assessing what matters
Ricky Lapidus on assessment.