Somehow charter schools have acquired a bit of a reputation for being soft on testing. That’s not true for us! As a tuition-free public K-8 charter school, we actively test and assess every Almond Acres Charter Academy student. AND…we celebrate testing itself!
Test-taking is a skill. It’s something we do throughout our lives. By celebrating this achievement — the test-taking itself — we purposefully shift the dynamic from a pressure-filled event to one of inclusivity and shared experience. We introduce the idea of learning in our classrooms together as practice and testing itself as the ‘game’ — or our chance to show our stuff! With preparation and practice, every opportunity to take a test can be a positive experience. And worth celebrating!
Standardized Testing: Our POV
Standardized testing is an important experience. When we prepare to test our AACA students, we spend quality time and energy in our classes sharing about and appreciating the opportunity for California standardized testing.
Testing results matter and help us plan and grow as a school and as teachers and administrators. As a school leadership team, testing is only one way we define our success and make our plans for next level learning.
Our team of credentialed teachers uses the Common Core State Standards to teach English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics, while using the State Content Standards for social studies, and the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) for science. Our AACA teachers also administer state-mandated testing annually in grades 3-8.
Further, our Curriculum Coordinator has established metrics she uses to track every unique learner — and ensure we meet their learning needs. By using our Formation of Learning and Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS), we ably and creatively recognize each AACA student’s academic, behavioral and social-emotional foundation.
MTSS allows us to balance support levels. For example, some students do their best in a traditional classroom setting, while another child may need to have supports in place to help them focus. For some students access to flexible seating allows their body to use excess energy. For another child, it may be having the ability to turn text into speech.
The Science of Gum Chewing
Rooted in both celebration and science, our students can chew gum and enjoy candy on testing days. Our “grading” is a 1-4 system rather than A-F. We infuse joy into this shared testing experience — and we gain valuable details from it, too. We celebrate every kid’s ability to be tested! This is truly a life skill.
Individual Student Gains
Testing is only one way we measure student progress. At Almond Acres, we want to track and connect to each student’s individual gains. Testing does not encapsulate all the ways every student is smart. In fact, our scholastic mission is to help students succeed in life by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul.
This mission is embedded in our academic DNA and informs how we grow together every school day. It truly sets us apart from other K-8 learning environments. We believe an education that addresses all aspects of a child’s life creates balanced, happy learners. And balanced, happy learners deserve joy and fun in their classroom environments — hooray for chewing gum and candy as we celebrate test-taking skills!
About Almond Acres
Almond Acres is relocating to Paso Robles. Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Open to all students in all communities, the school is currently located in San Miguel and moving to Paso Robles for the 2021-22 school year. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids!