At NGFS we believe that students and parents are best served with a regular schedule of conferences and a detailed assessment of the student's progress and qualities rather than simple letter or numerical grades. While our evaluations do include specific checklists that assess student progress in academic areas, they also provide a rich and comprehensive portrait of how the student is progressing, both intellectually and socially. Specific steps for areas that need further work are covered, as well as next steps for students who would benefit from additional academic challenges.
Older students take part in conferences with their teachers and parents. Together, we set learning (rather than performance) goals; by focusing on the process (rather than the grade), we encourage self motivation instead of relying on extrinsic rewards. Students receive specific feedback, both positive and negative, encouraging them to take an active part in learning what works and what needs improvement.
The teacher evaluations that are written in January and June give us a true picture of the "whole" child — how and what our child is doing in the classroom, not just from an academic sense, but also from a social and behavioral sense. For example, our child may be getting everything right on homework assignments and on tests, but is he making positive contributions to classroom discussions? How well does he work in groups? How does he express himself, and can he think critically? For us, knowing about all of our child's strengths and challenges is a vital part of a New Garden education. — Susan Wooster, parent of a 12th grader