Regarding assessment in particular, when the school opened— And again, starting from the hypothesis that the teachers in our staff had the matter of teaching resolved, we started working on the matter of assessment, because precisely, one of the characteristics of our school is related to the completion of concepts, and we’re not talking about the passing of subjects, but rather the completion of concepts. So we had to work with the teachers on the outlook we have regarding the assessment of youths and adolescents.
That was quite hard work, I mean with the teachers, because we had to deal with certain conceptions each of them had of learning, teaching and assessment. And we had to somehow set the framework where we wanted our school to unfold.
We can say that in our school, one of the premises is that there is no grade retention. Now, when you put it this way, some people who read this superficially might think that in this school there is no grade retention and that’s it. But in fact what students don’t repeat is the concept that has been completed. Our school is designed in such a way that students gradually put together their own journey, their own trajectory, selecting the subjects or curriculum units they can take in each term. This means that we don’t have, for instance, a group of 25-30 students taking eleven subjects at the same time so that, if they don’t pass three subjects when the new school year begins, they have to repeat all they did [in the previous year]. That’s what doesn’t get repeated in our school. The completed contents are completed, so the student can take the next level of that curriculum unit, so for example we have students doing Math level 2 and simultaneously Language level 3 and/or Social Sciences level 1. So we had to work on all of this with the teachers. That was the first contact teachers had with the school’s project, but this also meant their conceptions came into play regarding assessment.
And together with the teachers that were in our staff in the first year of the school, back in 2015, we designed and created a document that later became our school’s assessment scheme, completion of concepts and final exam exemption [document]. And this document also establishes which are the possible instances of student assessment. Attending the course enables a student to complete a subject or not—whether it is a half-year subject or a full-year subject.
In the case of half-year subjects, in the event the student doesn’t complete the subject, they have the chance to attend what we call Winter school, which is a short, intensive instance, to finish the contents in which the students didn’t become fully proficient. If this doesn’t happen, they have the chance to attend again what we call the December period. In the event that this also doesn’t enable them to finish, another instance is Summer school.
And in any case, if none of these instances enables the student to complete those concepts, only then is the student offered the chance to retake the subject—that one subject, not the remaining ones they completed.
And there are also cases in which we consider it’s possible to offer some students a deferred completion of concepts. I mean, to us, time—the academic calendar—is not the same for every student. Some need a few more months, some need a few more days, some need a whole extra term to finish the concepts. And here is where, as I told you, we put things together tailoring them to each student. We did this work at the beginning, when the school was founded, with adults in order to create these instances alongside them, to agree on them and eventually present them to students. The ones who understand this more quickly are students, of course.