"The true goal of assessment is not to test the acquisition of knowledge and skills.  No, indeed, the true goal of assessment is to guide learning activities. Conventional assessment puts a burden on learners to prove what they learned in a setting isolated from the learning—usually, the written test. Because conventional assessment has been confined to a
one-dimensional paper and pencil medium, it has little relevance to the actual cognitive challenges our children will encounter in life. Conventional assessment is most often dependent upon the child's reading level. For learners who have reading difficulties, conventional assessment fails to provide an accurate reflection of learning. Better teaching and learning requires the inclusion of assessment toolsbeyond the written test."

How Can Assessment Be Used As A Tool For Improving Learning and Performance?

Learning is a process more than an end-state.
To document learning, lead learners do best to observe and record children as they learn - in a variety of settings, performing many activities, using a range of tools. Observational assessment implies many changes in the way we teach and assess—a new paradigm for viewing the learning process. One intended change is that assessment becomes a formative, integral process of teaching in which ongoing assessments guide both teacher and learner. Teaching involves more than the intellectual development of children. Lead learners regularly work towards the emotional, physical, and spiritual development of their learners, as well as the development of social skills. Observational assessment is equally valid and applicable in all of these learning domains.

Authentic Assessment

We believe in the use of authentic assessment strategies such as lead learner observations, interviews, tasks, projects, portfolios and exhibitions, performance art, real life projects, and oral reports among others. Children will be involved in deciding how to assess their learning.

Having a voice in what to learn and how to assess that learning increases intrinsic motivation to learn. A variety of authentic assessment tasks and learner work will be stored in portfolios.


Students are encouraged and facilitated in developing portfolios of their work. Elements of portfolios are the work itself and, equally important, the reflection process which then engages the next steps for learning.  This type of learner driven assessment is highly effective at building the skills needed for independent learning, self-responsibility and a considered life. 

Traditional Assessment And How It Actually Harms Learning


Research done by well respected education researchers, such as Alfie Kohn, has consistently shown that assigning grades acts to take away a child's natural inclination for learning. This is similar to research that has shown that a young child will self-elect not to continue an activity if the child is praised for doing it. The more praise is given; the less likely the young child is to engage in the activity. Eventually children who are assigned grades begin to complete work only "for the grade". They also stop taking risks that might further their learning out of fear of receiving a lower grade. Grades, therefore, act to squash creativity, motivation and risk-taking among other negative effects. We will not issue grades except for children moving on to schools where grade reports are required.


Tests are only one form of assessment. Unfortunately today's accountability system has made paper and pencil standardized tests the forefront of assessment. At the same time, we recognize that learning to take standardized tests is a real life skill which can be taught as necessary to children who choose to take the SAT for college entrance. 


The research on the benefits of homework is clear. There are no measurable beneficial effects of homework in terms of increasing learner achievement. Light Way Schools do not issue homework except in rare cases when a piece of work is close to deadline or if a child self-elects to work on something at home. For the research on homework please read: "The Homework Myth" by Alfie Kohn or watch the DVD by the same author entitled "No Homework and No Grades = Learning..