Academic Assessment

The purpose of Watershed’s assessment process is to cultivate greater competence, academic curiosity and intellectual capacity in our students. To support a robust, persistent, and genuine desire for learning, Watershed faculty members avoid ranking and unnecessary emphasis on letter grades. Instead, we have developed methods for both summative assessment and formative assessment that together communicate clearly to students and their parents not only how much a student learned, but equally if not more importantly, how well a student’s learning process is developing.

Summative Assessment

A summative assessment looks back on the learning process in an effort to identify how much or how well the student integrated the content of the course. Students demonstrate competency through summative assessment tools including quizzes and tests that rely on quantitative results where students earn a certain score or percentage. Essays, reports and research papers also represent forms of summative assessment. Typically, these are scored using a rubric that identifies clearly the expectations for content, analysis, structure, syntax or style. The results from summative assessments appear in the written narrative at the end of the semester.

Formative Assessment

A formative assessment focuses on the learning process. It is meant to support a student’s growth during the course of the semester and provides essential feedback for improvement and positive change in areas including intellectual habits, study skills and written work. The forums dedicated to formative assessment include daily feedback on homework, individual meetings with teachers, progress reports (see below) and parent/student/teacher meetings.

Earning credit

Credit / No Credit designations appear on the end of semester evaluations and transcript. Earning credit in each course is tied directly to the course expectations. Students receive a “Course Expectations” form detailing minimum acceptable numerical grades on tests and quizzes, the number, length, and final quality of papers, quality expectations for other projects, and specific expectations for class participation and leadership. These course expectations detail what is necessary for students to earn credit in that specific course during that semester.
Students who do not meet the course expectations do not earn credit for the course. A “No Credit” designation appears on the student’s transcript.

College Transcripts include the following:

Summary of Student Progress is a one-page, representative compilation of quantitative scores and written narratives that the faculty believes most accurately reflects the student’s Watershed experience. Oriented to college admissions readers, this summary provides a snapshot of student performance. In addition, exceptional efforts, scholarship or academic engagement will be included.
List of Courses is a brief description of all the courses the student has taken while at Watershed. It also identifies whether the student earned credit in the course or not.
Semester Evaluations provide a detailed narrative of the students learning in each course. This serves to provide college admissions readers the detail they seek regarding a student’s approach to learning and level of engagement.