My teaching partner, Ms. Kylee, has been meeting new people recently. Part of that process is small talk and the basics of getting to know one another. Last week, someone asked her “How do Montessori students test? I mean, standardized testing is how people get into college.” She asked me about it and I was really intrigued by the question.
What does it mean to be a “good tester?” I asked my family, the smartest people I know, and they had lots of different answers.
- Pacing yourself
- Checking your work
- Calm under pressure
- Understanding ones learning style
- Time management
- Dedication to learning material
- Logical thinking
I loved all their answers. I especially loved that all of these qualities of a “good tester” are things being taught to Montessori children from the very beginning.
In a Montessori classroom, the child is able to learn at their own pace, with their own individual skills and interests, and with the careful observation and guidance of the teacher. The materials in the classroom are specifically designed to develop skills such as; Concentration, Coordination, Order, and Independence, all of which are needed to be a “good tester.”
The Montessori child is able to learn how to pace himself as he selects his own lessons. He has to be self-aware and understand the best ways to learn a material. He develops time management and pace as he carefully moves through a work before the natural transitions of a day. All of these skills manifests confidence in a child so that when facing a pressure induced situation, the child remains calm and in control.
There is some testing in a Montessori classroom, depending on the level and the schools affiliation. Public Montessori schools are required to administer the same standardized testing as other public schools. Some private schools also administer standardized exams, particularly if they will be required by schools into which their students may transition.
At our school, and with our age group, I believe the children are “tested” when they show mastery to a subject or lesson. When I observe a child able to complete a lesson successfully and then present it to another child, I feel that they have been “tested” on that subject.
A study done in the great state of Wisconsin, Go Pack Go, has findings that illustrate how Montessori students test. The study was completed on children who attended a Montessori preschool and were now in a traditional public high school. It discovered that the children significantly outperformed a peer control group on math/science scores. “In essence,” the study found, “attending a Montessori program from the approximate ages of three to 11 predicts significantly higher mathematics and science standardized test scores in high school.” Dohrmann, K., “Outcomes for Students in a Montessori Program: A Longitudinal Study of the Experience in the Milwaukee Public Schools”(AMI/USA May, 2003).
I firmly believe that because of the development of concentration, order, coordination, independence, and all the other wonderful work habits that the Montessori philosophy focuses on, Montessori children are able to become excellent test takers when the times comes.