January 5, 2016
Welcome back from winter break. I hope it has been a nice holiday season for you. For me, it is like Thanksgiving in that it reminds me of all I have to be grateful for in my life. Certainly, being head of school at Rowland Hall is a privilege for which I am thankful. It is truly a joy working with your children.
In the past few weeks, I’ve run into several of you who’ve said how much you appreciated receiving the email about our students’ AP scores and our sports teams’ great fall season. Those conversations have encouraged me to share more test data with you, this time our students’ ERB scores, with one caveat. Many of the most important skills we want our students to acquire – like critical thinking, the ability to collaborate, creative problem solving, the capacity to analyze information and to be empathetic – are difficult to test in traditional ways. Summative assessments like the ERBs and APs are just one way we measure student progress.
In our attempt to continually provide the best possible educational experience for our students, the school uses ERB score data in comparison with similarly high achieving schools nationally to better understand our students and to ensure that our curriculum and academic program meets the needs of our learners. Recently, Wendell Thomas, our director of curriculum and instruction, analyzed our Lower School students' ERB scores and noted an interesting trend: Rowland Hall students outperform their peers at high-performing public and independent schools across key subject areas.
The chart below synthesizes yearly scale score improvements for the past 4 years of ERB testing from current fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. Scale scores are one of the measures that ERB administrators recommend for assessing student growth, and yearly increases between 5-10 are considered “solid” academic growth. The data show that Rowland Hall (RH) students exhibit outstanding academic growth during their Lower School years, far greater than their very capable peers in both suburban public (Sub) and independent schools (Ind).
Looking more broadly at our results, another notable trend emerges:
When students first experience ERB testing at Rowland Hall, their achievement level is roughly on par with children in high-achieving suburban public schools, but slightly below that of other independent school students. This is expected, given the high-caliber of public schools who choose to offer ERB testing, and the very restrictive admission policies of some of our independent school peers. However, thanks to the rapid growth our students experience during their Lower School years, they surpass the achievement levels of peers in independent schools in key academic areas by the time they enter middle school.
Variations between classes and tests make us reluctant to put too much faith in a single year’s data. However, we feel confident that the multi-year trends we are seeing are real. The care, commitment, and professionalism of Rowland Hall’s teachers, staff, and administration make extraordinary learning possible.
If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact one of the principals, Wendell Thomas, or me.
I hope you and your children had a wonderful holiday. We are glad to see you back at school and want to wish you a very Happy New Year.