While the majority of the assessments at Spring Garden Waldorf school are done through observation and without formal testing, we do administer the IOWA Test of Basic Skills once a year, to 4th through 8th graders, for specific academic feedback.
The unique unfolding of the Waldorf curriculum through the grades creates some discrepancies between the areas being measured on the tests and our learning goals, so we give the students only sections applicable by grade level.
- We do not test children before Grade Four.
- 4th Grade students will take the Language Arts and Mathematics sections of the test. The students in 4th grade are not timed while taking the tests.
- 5th & 6th Grade students will take the Language Arts, and Mathematics sections of the test with timing parameters to increase the validity of the data received as well as to provide the students with exposure to this kind of experience.
- 7th & 8th Grade students will take all sections of the test and follow the required time limits.
We do not use the testing scores for evaluations of teachers or students, but do use them to compare individual and class progress from year to year as we move through our Waldorf curriculum. We also have, in years past, used IOWA test scores for our own research and study purposes.
Last year we completed an independent five-year study of SGWS students’ IOWA test scores. The analysis, conducted by the University of Akron Business Analytics department, found that test scores at Spring Garden rose as students rose in grade level, and that student’s national percentile ranks also increased as they moved through the grades.
Impressively, by Grade Eight, SGWS students well outperformed their same-age and same-grade peers nationally who took the IOWA tests.
- 50% of SGWS Grade Eight students tested at a 13th grade equivalency, the grade level at which the IOWA test is capped.
- 75% of SGWS Grade Eight students performed significantly above 10th grade equivalency.
- Also notable… there were no significant differences in the performance of male vs. female students at Spring Garden Waldorf School.
This year, students will be given the IOWA test during between February 29th and March 4th. Parents are encouraged to let their children know that this is just another experience for them and that they need not be concerned about outcome.
Many schools have a PTA or PTO, and here at Spring Garden we have Parent Council. The Parent Council serves as the voice of parents at our school and promotes community enrichment and communication between the faculty, Board, and the parent body at large.
While parents are always welcome to attend any Parent Council meeting, we wanted to extend a special invitation for the meeting next Thursday, February 18, at 6:00 p.m.
As the school prepares for our next round of strategic planning later this year, the Board and administration are seeking as much feedback as possible from parents to inform and guide our work. This Parent Council meeting will give you the opportunity to provide us with valuable input.
Please click here to sign up so that we have a sense of how many people to expect to plan for space. Hope to see you there!
Paperbacks are a buck, hard-covers are two dollars, and specialty and coffee-table books are three dollars. CDs and DVDs will be priced between $1.00 and $5.00.
We will continue to accept your donations of books, CDs, and DVDs in the School Store throughout the sale, so if you’ve got an overflowing bookshelf you’re eager to clean out, now is the time!
“We can’t blame children for occupying themselves with Facebook rather than playing in the mud. Our society doesn’t put a priority on connecting with nature. In fact, too often we tell them it’s dirty and dangerous.” – David Suzuki
The National Wildlife Federation has essentially created a whitepaper on dirt to explain and encourage mud play among children. There’s an International Mud Day in June. And Immunologist, Mary Ruebush, has written a whole book about it: Why Dirt Is Good: 5 Ways to Make Germs Your Friends.
We know playing outdoors, in general, has a myriad of proven health and learning benefits. And sensory play is also essential for developing skills, especially in younger children.
But why is mud, specifically, so good for children?
First, there is the issue of children’s immune systems. As Ruebush says, “Let your child be a child. Dirt is good. If your child isn’t coming in dirty every day, they’re not doing their job. They’re not building their immunological army. So it’s terribly important.”
In fact, there are many ways in which dirt’s microscopic bacteria benefit children’s bodies and minds. One in particular, Mycobacterium vaccae, had been found to increase the levels of serotonin in our brains, which boosts mood and relieves anxiety.
Researchers at The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York also wondered whether, in addition to its antidepressant effect, M. vaccae may also have an effect on schoolwork.
“Since serotonin plays a role in learning, we wondered if live M. vaccae could improve learning in mice,” says Dr. Dorothy Matthews, who co-authored the study. “We found that mice that were fed live M. vaccae navigated the maze twice as fast and with less demonstrated anxiety behaviors as control mice.”
Turns out there are great body benefits, too. In addition to being good for the immune system, experts at the University of California at San Diego have found that mud play combats inflammation while improving wound healing. The researchers studied both mice and human cells in their lab and found that common bacteria, called staphylococci, can reduce inflammation after injury when they are present on the skin’s surface.
But most importantly, the kids love it because it’s fun to get dirty, fun to play outside, and fun to be with friends and have unrestricted playtime in nature. So let the kids be kids.
As American botanist Luther Burbank once said, “Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud turtles, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb. Brooks to wade…bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hayfields, pine-cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes and hornets; any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of…education.”
Win a free ticket to the auction! This upcoming Friday Morning, January 29th, enter for a chance to win a free ticket to this year’s Benefit Auction, valued at $75.
Raffle tickets are $1 each and will be on sale Friday morning from 8:20 – until the start of the Assembly. After that time, tickets can be purchased in the office until the end of the school day on Monday January 31st. The drawing will take place Tuesday, Feb. 1st.
Enter a Waldorf school for a tour and you may be immediately struck by the beauty within the classroom. Within that beauty, your eye will no doubt settle at the chalkboard, where the children look daily, to behold a colorful and beautiful piece of hand crafted artwork — the chalk drawing. All Waldorf teachers do these amazing chalkboard drawings, but why? Rudolf Steiner made no specific mention of teachers drawing elaborate and gorgeous art with chalk.
Yet the trend, as it were, is rooted in Steiner’s belief that learning must invoke, “The True, the Beautiful, and the Good.” He believed these three great ideals tapped into, “the sublime nature and lofty goal of all human endeavor.”
As Artist Kate Walter, says in her website, Living Traditional Arts, “One of the rewards found teaching in a Waldorf school is the required opportunity to work with colored chalk on the blackboard. In the Waldorf classroom, we put drawings on the board to create mood and atmosphere in the classroom and to be an artful aid to the students, encouraging them to enter their lessons imaginatively.”
We like this further elaboration from Chapter 6 of the book, A Passionate Schooling, by Alduino Mazzone, PhD: “In a world where so many children are cut off from the beauty of nature, from forests and bird song and even blue skies, where contemporary youth culture can be even deliberately ugly, it is important that, in the school, children are surrounded by beauty, in the physical and human environment, and have all around them models which demonstrate and encourage the value of creativity and imagination.”
For more about Waldorf Chalk Drawings, visit ChalkboardDrawings.org, a definitive resource from this lovely paper from Catie Johnson at Antioch University.
Here are some of the recent Chalk Drawings seen at Spring Garden Waldorf School:
Join us at a new date To Be Determined, for Coffee and Conversation regarding parent-teacher relationships. Parents will view a webinar together, “”The Human Encounter: Parent-Teacher Relationships in a Waldorf School,” followed by a question/answer/discussion period with Royse Crall and other experienced Waldorf teachers.
The relationships between our teachers and our parents represent the health and warmth of our school community. And, like all relationships, consideration, respect, and commitment to enhance the connection is essential in growing the well being of the personal kinship within the community, the success of our children, and the health of our school.
In this webinar, Dr. Torin Finser, Chair of the Education Department at Antioch University New England, explores parent and teacher relations using architectural images to represent the social architecture of communities and how they operate.
Among other things, he encourages us to remember that the relationship between teachers and parents is, “not a matter of technique. It’s a matter of learning to work together in the human encounter.”
Please join us as we view and discuss this thoughtful lecture by Dr. Finser.