As parents of children who are not impacted by the FCAT testing or the Sunshine State Standards, you might be wondering how these curricular guidelines and testing instruments are implemented in our school under the Montessori practices. We teach the traditional Montessori curriculum throughout our school from the Toddlers through the 8th grade. Our teachers have been specially trained in not only the vast sets of Montessori didactic materials, but also on a larger scale, in the scope and sequence of the Montessori curriculum for schools. There are curricular standards for each age grouping instead of each grade level. Within these standards are guidelines for all the subject areas. For example, the math curriculum for the first three grades includes addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers through the tens of thousands, and of fractions and decimals. This curriculum is not matched in traditional education until the fifth grade.
If one were to pace the Sunshine State Standards with the Montessori curriculum, one would find that not only does the Montessori stated curriculum include these standards, but it goes beyond in all subject areas. The reason this is possible is that children are permitted to move ahead at their own pace and are given advanced lessons to encourage and motivate them to learn more.
Evaluation of children in Montessori schools is done by teacher observation rather than by written tests. As the children get older, they are given instructions in how to take tests as part of the Montessori curriculum for practical life. Beginning in the 4th grade and continuing each year thereafter, the children take nationally-normed standardized achievement tests. However, this testing practice does not influence our curriculum and we do not teach to these tests. We continue with our Montessori curriculum and use these tests primarily as indicators for our parents so they can be reassured that their children are indeed meeting national standards for education.
Because our middle school program (Level 3) is also a time for children to be prepared for traditional high school, the curriculum includes all those things the children will need to know in order to transition to traditional education. They are taught test-taking skills, responsibility in managing homework, project-planning strategies, how to deal with assignments that aren’t due for several days or weeks, and how to pace themselves through these assignments. They also receive percentages as grades and must continue to work on assignments until they complete the work with 90% accuracy. As a result of our middle school program, our graduates consistently perform well in both private and public high schools. In fact, our graduates are sought after by some private schools in our area.
As a Montessori School, we pride ourselves in being true to our Montessori roots of meeting the needs of each individual child. Education of the whole child is our goal, and a very important part of this education is our academic program, which is not only excellent, but exceeds the traditional model available in our public and private schools. How far each child progresses depends upon who he is and how he is taught. The sky is the limit, not the curriculum!
Director/Elementary 1 Teacher