Dear Parents, Alumni, Faculty, and Staff,
When I first came to Rowland Hall 25 years ago, I noticed the vibrant and dynamic learning culture that is now a trademark of the school. Teachers and administrators saw themselves not just as educators, but as students, too. Today, this attitude is stronger than ever. In our classrooms, teachers are creating rich and meaningful experiences for our students by incorporating practices based on the latest brain research. In our parent forums, faculty and administrators offer parents strategies for talking to children about sensitive topics. In our board meetings, trustees discuss data and research to ensure our programs remain both competitive and effective. And our faculty and staff engage in professional development on a regular basis, travel to discipline-specific conferences, and pursue continued education to stay abreast of the latest research and teaching methods. We have created an environment where students witness adults modeling the very behavior asked of them, and this generates enthusiasm for their own learning. It makes me proud (and excited) to be the “head learner” at Rowland Hall.
Our learning culture is aligned with progressive education trends, which have shifted away from measuring students’ proficiency through traditional tests and the memorization of facts. Instead, teachers now focus on developing students’ character, creativity, critical thinking, and cross-cultural competency, and furthering their collaboration and communication skills. The positive results are evident in student-driven projects, summer internships, in-depth science labs, cross-curricular work, and creative use of technology to demonstrate proficiency. Of course, a core foundation in math, history, and vocabulary, among other areas, is still important. The key is finding a balance between a traditional fact-based education and one that emphasizes teamwork, critical thinking, and hands-on learning.
I am happy to report that while we encourage our young scholars to focus on the process over the product, our students are still performing exceptionally well by traditional measures.
In the past 10 years, our seniors' average ACT scores have increased steadily:
- English from 27 to 30
- Math from 26 to 28
- Reading from 27 to 29
- Science from 25 to 28
- Composite from 26 to 29
The ACT has become the preferred test for our students, but our average SAT scores have also gone up during this period:
- Reading from 606 to 633
- Writing from 600 to 646
- Math from 586 to 635
Perhaps most impressive is our consistently high performance on the Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Among 50 similarly sized peer schools in the Independent School Data Exchange, we have one of the highest percentages of students taking AP exams, particularly in math and English, and our students earn above-average scores. Generally, average scores decrease when more students sit for the exams, but that’s not the case at Rowland Hall: students of varied abilities push themselves by taking AP tests, and they continue to perform well. At Rowland Hall, 91% of students who took AP exams last year passed at least one of their exams, compared to 60% of students nationally.
At Rowland Hall, we’re proud to be at the forefront of education in the Intermountain West. We’re committed to incorporating the latest teaching models into our classrooms and keeping what works. We continually examine our practices to ensure our methods provide the most effective learning environment and experience for students. It isn’t always an easy process, and change can be slow, but indicators show that we’re moving in the right direction. Our net promoter scores (compiled through parent surveys) improved from last year to this year. We have made The Salt Lake Tribune’s list of best places to work two years in a row. Our student surveys convey great appreciation for the dedication and expertise of our faculty, and students value the strong relationships they cultivate with teachers and staff. Finally, in 2016, we brought in an expert on organizational culture who said our school culture is particularly positive, with a wonderful sense of community and caring.
Rowland Hall is a special place. I know I feel fortunate to be here, and I hope you do, too.