Meaningful Assessments for Growth

Dear Families,

The Nation's Report Card was just released, which generally leads to a lot of discourse about academic achievement. This report only addresses reading and math scores for students in grade 4 and 8. New Hampshire's scores decreased slightly since 2015, and the summary observations reported on the official website indicate "no significant changes compared to 2015 for most states".

The Union Leader captures NH closer with the following insights:

  • About 43 percent of New Hampshire’s fourth-graders scored at or above proficient on the reading assessments, and 48 percent of fourth-graders scored at or above proficient on the math assessment. Similarly, 45 percent of eighth-graders scored at or above proficient on both the reading and math tests.

At this point, I should probably pause to emphasize something about the aforementioned context: test scores are not the only indicator of a student's worth, potential, or achievement level, but we do need to be mindful of growth. And yes, it does appear that New Hampshire public schools achieve at a higher level than most other states, which is a testament to our state. But there are serious discrepancies as you would imagine in local school districts.

If there are no significant changes in academic achievement, can we suggest there is even growth or progress? What other factors should be considered when determining the growth of a student? Should we not consider growth in character as well? Does aiming for proficiency in a sense lower the standards for academic excellence and moral growth?

It is because of the previous questions that we are shifting our assessment models to growth. Assessing student growth is truly the best way to personalize learning, and at the same time avoid minimizing expectations. Instead, by using the Map Growth assessment tools, we will be able to plan for student improvement. The test results won't just indicate if students are performing at a satisfactory enough level. Teachers will be able to see the next area of opportunity for student achievement. This is truly a better reflection of our mission to inspire children to always be better, one day at a time.

What is even more amazing is that students will not be subjected to extensive amounts of testing. In fact, the new assessment will only take approximately 2 hours. Students will take the test on a computer, and the teachers will receive results within 2 days! We will of course share what we learn with parents. This May is our first 'dry-run', but we intend to administer the assessment at the beginning and end of each school year to grades 1-7 for the foreseeable future. This will again give us a clearer window into student growth over the course of a complete academic year, not just from spring to spring.

Should you have any questions or want to meet with me to discuss this new assessment model, please book a time online.

Yours Truly In Christ,

Derek Tremblay, Headmaster