in Japan

Assessments at CAJ

David Marshall

When people reminisce about their school days, they mention their friends, teachers, and experiences. They rarely mention how much they enjoyed tests, although they may occasionally mention a group project or a talk they had to give. When an adult applies for a job, very rarely will a prospective employer look at their report cards from school.

It is easy to assume that going to school is all about taking tests and getting good grades, but these are really just a small part of life in school. A school like CAJ has broader goals than this. Our school staff believe that we are made in God's image, a complex idea that deals with our minds, hearts and emotions as a package. Human beings have so many aspects that cannot be measured by a test, or written on a report card. CAJ is making the attempt to teach students in all areas, so while assessments and grades have a part to play, we use them to help our students grow, rather than solely for determining the worth or identity of a student.

We believe that assessment is important, as it informs students, parents and teachers about what the student is learning, and how well they are learning it. We use that information to help students grow and improve. We want them to learn from mistakes, to bounce back and try again, to see room for improvement and to make goals about how to achieve the desired improvement. In educational terms, this kind of assessment is called 'formative assessment.' It's purpose is to foster growth.

From time to time, we also need to take a picture of where students are. Assessment results are recorded on report cards and transcripts, which are then sent to interested parties like parents and colleges. This data doesn't show potential or predict the future, so it is limited in use. It is still necessary, and can be used for decisions like college entrance. These kinds of assessments are called 'summative assessments' by educators.

However, neither kind of assessment shows us who student is, or how hard they are working, or how kind they can be. They do not show us the value of a person, nor do they show us what they might become. At CAJ, we believe that we are to use assessments and grades for their intended purposes, and nothing more. We encourage students not to increase or decrease their own value or the value of others based on grades.

Yes, we celebrate academic success, but we do not define it solely by what is written on the report card. The day to day struggles of learning and growing are to be celebrated, too. That is what makes CAJ a great place to be a student (and a teacher, too!)



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