InView and Terra Nova tests once a year. When SJS receives the test results, the faculty convenes for a professional development day. First, data trends are analyzed school-wide to determine strengths and weaknesses within the curriculum. Areas of strength highlight successful curriculum development, effective teaching practices, and high student achievement. However a focus is on the areas of weakness to determine curricular priorities. For example, across grade levels in the past few years, science scores tended to be significantly lower than reading, language, math, and social studies. Therefore a science committee of teachers, parents, and professionals formed to improve science instruction at St. Josaphat School. As a result the school has a more focused scope and sequence, a junior high science lab, and a larger set of resources for science classes.
Within each classroom, teachers use the results of the Terra Nova in yearly planning. Concepts that have been mastered are allocated significantly less instructional time than concepts the students have not mastered. In addition to examining school wide and grade level trends, teachers analyze individual student test results. Teachers use these results to differentiate instruction. At the junior high level, teachers use Terra Nova results as a factor in determining student placement in on-level and advanced math and reading classes. At the primary and intermediate level, teachers use results from the Benchmark Assessment in developing guided reading groups.
Throughout the year every teacher uses pre-assessments, formative and summative assessments, and student inventories. Results from pre-assessments are used in planning units and creating flexible instructional groups. Formative and summative assessments distinguish between concepts the students have mastered and concepts that require further instructional time. Student inventories reveal learning styles and student interests that guide teachers in creating more effective instructional units.
3. Communicating Assessment Results:
St. Josaphat School administers the Terra Nova standardized test each March to students in 2nd through 7th grade. When the school receives the results, the principal sends a letter to each parent with a copy of the scores for each of his or her children. This letter explains how to read the results and reminds the parents that this is only a snapshot of their child’s performance. Parents are informed that testing is a tool the faculty uses to determine how to strengthen our curriculum. Faculty members are available to discuss any results with parents. Additionally, the scores are available in the principal’s office for parents to review.
Annual results are also communicated to the community at large through our marketing and admissions programs. Results are written and included in the packet each prospective parent receives from our marketing committee members at school fairs and at each of our monthly school tours.
While standardized tests are useful tools, it is the opinion of the St. Josaphat School administration and faculty that these are only one tool among many to determine what, how, and how much each of our students is learning. We want each student to feel comfortable with the testing situation, to be realistic about what information the test can give us, and be quite clear that any sort of high stakes testing does not indicate who they are as a whole person. To this end, we try to make the testing situation a relaxed one. Students have no homework, receive snacks, and have an exciting all-school integrated project during this time. This gives our students something to look forward to and adds a positive aura to standardized testing weeks.
Other local assessment results are communicated regularly with parents and students through progress reports, report cards, parent teacher conferences, teacher emails, and student work sent home. These methods of communication allow the parents and students to have an ongoing realistic view of student progress.
4. Sharing Success:
St. Josaphat School currently shares its successes large and small via the school website. Should SJS be the recipient of the Blue Ribbon designation, a page would be added to describe the honor and what the school has accomplished to deserve it.
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