Harmony Educational Model
Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment
Using assessment in instruction requires the use of diagnostic, formative, and summative assessments by means of checks for understanding at the beginning, during, and at the end of class.
Criterion-referenced assessment tools Harmony uses system wide are Curriculum-based assessments (called district/system-wide assessments) and mock tests. System-wide assessments are formative in nature and assess student learning every quarter (4 times a year). Results help evaluate the effectiveness of instruction towards learning goals in the Harmony curriculum. Mock tests are held twice a year and measure student progress towards state standards as measured by the state-mandated assessments. System-wide assessments and mock tests are analyzed for each student. The analysis triggers a personalized learning path for each student. Harmony provides small-group tutoring as part of intervention strategies based on each student’s individualized needs.
The norm-referenced NWEA MAP (Northwest Evaluation Association Measure of Academic Progress) allows Harmony to track student growth in comparison with other students who take the test nationwide. MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) creates a personalized assessment experience by adapting to each student’s learning level—precisely measuring student progress and growth for each individual.
In Harmony, students are also encouraged to take ACT and College Board tests such as PSAT, SAT, and AP exams. Harmony school programs are designed to help students be successful in these exams, which are critical for matriculation in top-notch American universities. Based on these criteria, Harmony schools are listed as top high schools in the United States by U.S. News and Washington Post.
Other norm-referenced assessment tools include LAS Links for the assessment of ESL (English as a Second Language) students and CogAT for Gifted and Talented identification. There are also diagnostic and ongoing assessment tools for students with a wide variety of learning disabilities.
Harmony has integrated a personalized assessment and learning system (blended learning) into its curriculum documents and intervention model. Students have access to adaptive educational software that assesses students’ strengths and weaknesses and creates learning paths for them. Students are tracked and assessed using the software, which allows them to progress at their own accelerated pace.
Harmony effectively uses authentic assessment tools such as portfolio-based and performance-based tools through project-based learning. Students develop 21st century skills i.e. communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and technology literacy while working on curriculum-based or year-round self-initiated projects. Learning becomes relevant and meaningful. Assessments are based on rubrics. Harmony’s STEM-driven (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) project based learning model led to the creation of the STEM SOS (STEM Students on the Stage) model. A book titled “A Practice-based Model of STEM Teaching” has been published in 2015. Copies of the book can be ordered through Sense Publishers. A preview is also available on the Sense Publishers website.
Harmony has developed actionable data dashboards to make multiple forms of assessment data easily accessible to teachers and principals. The dashboards provide real-time data for educators so that they can assist students in setting personalized goals to improve their performance and keep parents up-to-date regarding their children’s progress towards goals. The dashboards also make it easy for teachers to interpret the data and act on it. One of the most robust features of the dashboard is that it can generate recommendations for teachers regarding how they can create flexible student groups for intervention and enrichment purposes based on formative and summative assessment results.