A common question from parents is, “How is my child doing in comparison to other children his/her age?” A teacher is able to answer this question fairly easily when comparing a child to those in his or her class and even to those who attend the same school because the data to use for comparison is readily available. It is more difficult to compare a student to others the same age at other schools without having consistent data with which to compare. To that end, most schools use some type of standardized testing that is also administered to students in other schools.
In May of every year, students who attend the Academy in 1st-8th grade complete the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) standardized test, Comprehensive Testing Program 4 (CTP4). We use the results from this testing not only to provide us with a “benchmark” that we use along with other data to assess the growth of our students, but also to give us some indicator of how our students fare when compared to groups of similar age in other schools.
The CTP4’s are administered to thousands of students throughout the United States. ERB provides every participating school data for comparison not only by grade level but it is also by types of school. For example, information is provided comparing students to others in their class, to others in their school, to others in similar schools (such as those located in suburban areas or in independent schools), and to all students who took the test nationally. By looking at the “norms” for these varying groups, we can see how well a child or a group of children fare in comparison.
As educators, we are always looking to improve our program. Assessing each child as well as each group allows us to determine where to focus our energies to best help our students reach their potential. Thus, we consistently review these comparisons and use the data gathered to help guide our instruction.
Here in the Lower School at the Academy, we are very proud of our students and the progress they continue to achieve. In looking at the comparisons of our 1st through 4th grade students with the independent school group (which tends to be the strongest group who take the CTP4’s), we have done very well. For example, when we look at comparing the average percentage of correct answers our students achieve with those of the average percentage of correct answers of students in other independent schools, we have, over the last three years, exceeded the average for independent schools by over three percentage points.
So when parents ask how their child compares, we can honestly say our students compare very well to others their age! More importantly, we will continue to adjust our instruction to be sure to help each and every student meet his or her potential.