Promotion by Portfolio
Student work is assessed at Parker via portfolios, using school-wide standards and rubrics. To advance through its six-year program of studies, students are required to meet the school’s standards for Divisions I, II, and III; each may do so at the rate appropriate for his or her individual development. Students demonstrate mastery of curricular standards in each Division through "Gateway Exhibitions" in which they present and defend their academic portfolios. The final Gateway is graduation, for which students present special Graduation Portfolios in several areas.
Each year all Parker students assemble a Year-End Portfolio in each Domain, which serves as the basis of their Year-End Assessment report. They carefully examine past assignments and consider their performance on past assessments, review teacher comments, and rate themselves as to whether they meet the expectations for their division. They select a number of pieces that show progress over the year to put in their portfolio, which serves as the permanent record of their learning.
In Year-End Assessments, teachers evaluate student progress in narrative form, and assess their work (as "Just Beginning," Approaches," or "Meets") relative to the curricular standards for their Division. When the Portfolio shows the student is consistently meeting expectations in all of the skill areas assessed by a particular domain, as well as making academic progress, students are ready to advance to the next Division. Typically this happens at two-year intervals.
When students are ready to gateway to the next division, they develop the Gateway Portfolio. In a Cover Letter to the Portfolio, gateway students describe and reflect on their progress over a two-year cycle, as evidenced in the work in the Portfolio, and their readiness for the next Division's challenges. Then they present their Gateway Portfolio in a Public Exhibition, before a small audience made up of their advisor, teachers, their parents, other students, and members of the community. The students answer questions about their work and talk about what matters most in their learning, their progress, their struggles, and their goals in the next division. Students' ability to reflect on their work and respond to audience questions is an important element of their demonstrating readiness for promotion.
The Gateway Portfolio Exhibition marks a student's successful progress through the multi-year Division curricular cycle, and his or her readiness to work toward the next Division's standards and goals. Students who continue in a division are not "repeating" curriculum but rather entering another year of that cycle. Students who advance to the next division move into the beginning of that division's multi-year curriculum cycle. Students may proceed at different times into the next Division in each Domain; for example, many students are in Division II MST and Division I Arts and Humanities, or vice versa. Gateway Portfolio Exhibitions take place at several appropriate points in the school year. Teachers and advisers consult with families to decide the best time for each individual student to advance into a new Division.
The Gateway Exhibition is a moment of celebration at the Parker School. Parents often bring food or flowers to make the occasion personal and special. Upon the successful completion of this exhibition, students gateway into the next division.
At every stage, at every age, students are challenged to Meet the Criteria for Excellence. Students are active participants in their own educational progress, and teachers are there to help and support them in pursuit of their goals.