Schools may choose to describe up to two additional pieces of information about how their school is supporting students. These self-reported indicators are not factored into school accountability calculations but provide the opportunity for schools to highlight successful programs or practices in addition to the indicators included in school accountability.
MWMA Executive Function Study Shows Rapid Growth
The Montessori philosophy focuses extensively on social, emotional, and executive development for students as well as academic skills. MWMA measured executive function skills based on research indicating that Montessori classrooms foster non-cognitive skills including executive function, creativity, and self-regulation. We used the nationally normed Minnesota Executive Function Scale to assess executive function (working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control) in our first grade students at the beginning and end of the school year. Our students use individual work plans to plan, organize, and track the work they complete; they are held accountable for choosing, initiating, and completing work, and checking it off with a teacher. They also complete and present interest-based projects and have opportunities to be mentored by older students in the classroom. At end of year, our first graders compared favorably on the MEFS assessment to national norms (see Chart 1). Scores across time show that their progress from beginning (Time 1) to end of year (Time 2) showed significantly more than normal expected growth for the time period (see Chart 2). This indicates that our 54 first graders increased their working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control over the course of the school year to a significantly greater degree than expected from typical developmental growth. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nP6YB_-szonhoBVConV1RpFAc6jGXXqq/view?usp=sharing
Accelerated Learners Program Builds Resilience
MWMA enrolls a significant number of students who possess cognitive gifts in the areas of verbal, quantitative, and spatial reasoning. These students, if not adequately challenged, are susceptible to 1) poor work ethic due to boredom (and even behavioral problems), 2) anxiety in conjunction with perfectionism, and/or 3) an inability to take risks and embrace mistakes. Some students are "twice exceptional", possessing both cognitive gifts and learning disabilities. We have implemented a highly successful Accelerated Learners program to identify and better serve these students. Our program is founded upon a philosophy of "growth mindset", the belief that intelligence can be developed and that growth and achievement come through effort, not merely natural ability (from Stanford University): https://news.stanford.edu/2015/04/29/dweck-kids-potential-042915/ We use the CogAT (a cognitive abilities test to assess verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal reasoning skills) along with teacher surveys and academic testing, to qualify students for our program. Students with high verbal, spatial, and/or quantitative reasoning skills participate in enrichment groups to follow their interests and passions. They go on experiential learning outings and complete projects with the goal of challenging themselves, learning to cope with failure and difficulty, and integrating critical thinking and problem-solving skills into authentic work.