Assessment is the systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving student learning and development.  – T. Marchese, 1987 (Geneseo)

testing

Assessment provides evidence of student learning. It can be collected by standardized tests or teacher created measures of progress toward pre-defined goals that come from a well-established curriculum. We do assessment because it matters to us that students are learning and accomplishing the intended Student Outcomes we have established for CSCS students. Quality assessment is defined by how accurately it measures what the students know and are able to do what the curriculum has defined as the target objectives for learning at a particular level. It helps us increase our teaching effectiveness and intervene when individual students struggle and are unable to meet the learning goals. We are accountable to those who have commissioned us to this work and to those who are entrusting us with their children.

If we only took students from the cream of the crop, you would expect all our test scores to be great. The truth is, we take all mission appropriate students who desire a Christ-centered education and can be served at our schools. That may mean that their entrance scores could be below average in many areas. We have increased our support services to be able to serve all but the most severe special needs students. So when we show excellent test scores as a school, it is with great pride that we report those scores. Our students and teachers are working with the same abilities as the typical students but they are dedicated, hard-working, serious about their work, and it shows in their academic achievement. A positive attitude about school and schoolwork is contagious and encourages other students toward excellence. Read on…we think you will be pleased with what you see.

Click the buttons below for a summary of test results for elementary, middle school, and high school.

High stakes tests are usually single paper and pencil tests that yield scores which qualify or disqualify students or even schools from programs or dollars. That may be college, gifted programs, scholarships, or on the other hand, low scores may put students in special education programs or may label schools as “failing schools”. We do use standardized tests at CSCS as one measure of as student’s progress in their academic career. It is helpful to be able to compare their scores against those of other students in the nation on tests and sometimes colleges or other programs require such measures. However, it is important to remember that paper and pencil tests can only measure one subset of skills. Success in life depends on far more than just those skills. If you look at the CSCS Expected Student Outcomes, you will see a wide variety of skills and abilities that a fully developed CSCS student should be able to do that will reflect not only a good academic education but also a student who makes decisions based on character, can speak, reason, solve problems, knows Christ personally, relates well to others and to the world around them. Assessments at CSCS have been designed at the classroom level to measure far more than just English and math, which the high stakes tests tend to focus on.

CSCS uses a wide variety of assessments that are both formative and summative. That means that teachers are checking for understanding as they go along. They are not just waiting for the final evaluation before they find out that a student is not learning. Assessments should be available and useful to the student to help chart their course so they know what they need to study and where they may need to get extra help. Our philosophy is to use assessment as a learning tool, not just a grading device.

Assessments at CSCS are intended to provide teachers with tools on which to base decisions about how to teach the material and how to proceed with the unique needs of each class. Once a teacher identifies an essential skill that the student does not have, that teacher has a responsibility to help the student attain the missing skill. Sometimes that occurs in the classroom. Other times it will be addressed with a parent, a tutor, or the Resource Teacher.

Below are some belief statements about the assessment system at CSCS:

Assessments:

  • are aligned with the CSCS curriculum and Student Outcomes
  • identify the degree to which students are meeting the objectives of the Student Outcomes and the curriculum
  • are KEY to establishing and monitoring academic goals.
  • are shared, consistent, and communicated to all constituencies. “Common assessments”, used as part of a professional learning community, encourage dialog among teachers of similar subjects/levels
  • are created at the teacher level and then monitored to insure accountability to the curriculum
  • involve multiple learning styles and methods of demonstrating skills and abilities
  • focus on all levels of learning (basic recall, higher-level learning)
  • provide immediate feedback to students to actually help them in the learning process
  • are formative and summative
  • provide information useful for improving teacher effectiveness, student learning, curriculum and program, and assessments

CSCS has chosen a variety of assessments in order to monitor student progress over the educational experience of a student. Click here to find a chart with the various tests used at CSCS and description of the purpose of the tests and any additional explanations needed.

At CSCS, we use the Third Edition of the TerraNova Test for our standardized testing. This version of the test was normed in 2011. The individual profiles parents received in 2012 only reflected national norms in 2012 because the test was new for our comparison group, ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International). Reports for this year’s testing will reflect national and ACSI norms. The scores for your student are typically lower when compared to other Christian school students because the total student population in Christian schools tends to achieve at a higher level than public school students.

An interpretation of terms is included:

  • Scaled Scores represent approximately equal units on a continuous scale, using numbers that range from 1-999. They could be compared to last year’s scores on the same subtests but cannot be compared from one subtest to another. These are not very useful for our purposes.
  • National PR-S includes Percentile Ranks and Stanines. The Percentile Rank score indicates the percentage of students in the same grade obtaining scores equal to or less than that score. The Stanine is a score from 1-9. A score of 5 designates average performance. Stanines also indicate a student’s relative standing in the national norm group.
  • Performance on Objectives is a helpful way to look at groups of scores. If the circles are completely black, your student shows a high mastery of that set of skills. If the circle is half and half, they show moderate mastery. If the circle is completely open, they show only a low level of mastery.
  • Normal Curve Equivalent (NCE) scores range from 1 to 99 and describe student ability on an equal-interval scale within the same grade. For any single student, a NCE shows the percentage of students in the norm group obtaining a score lower than this student. NCE’s can be used to compare scores from test to test and for different versions of a test.
  • The InView Cognitive Skills Test (3rd, 5th and 7th grade only) yields a CSI (Cognitive Skills Index). The cognitive skills index score is 100. You will see a verbal and a non-verbal test score as well as a total. There are age and grade Percentile Ranks and Scaled Scores to see how your student compares to others in the nation. This score indicates a student’s overall cognitive ability relative to other students of the same age without regard to the grade they are in. The other sections of the TerraNova are much more a measure of achievement or what they have actually learned and retained. Normal scores will fall between 86 and 116 for the CSI.

Also included with the TerraNova results you will receive a separate sheet for the Bible subtest with an indication of whether students were Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, or Advanced in their Bible Knowledge. These results are very general and are not aligned specifically with our curriculum. If you are interested in seeing a scope and sequence of what we cover at CSCS in Bible from K-12, we would be glad to get a copy of that document to you.

We switched to the TerraNova for several reasons:

  1. ACSI switched to the TerraNova as its recommended test. They suggested that the TerraNova was more up-to-date, tested items at a higher level of thinking, encouraged more problem solving and was less a test of rote memorization of facts. Given today’s educational environment, those skills align better with success at the next levels for readiness as our students head toward college and careers.
  2. The tools for analyzing results are far superior with TerraNova. Our teachers are able to look at student test scores to see what students know and have not yet mastered, both as individuals and as a group. TerraNova is also working on making many of these same tools available for parents. We will let you know when they are ready and how you can learn to use these tools to gain information which will help you work with your son or daughter on any weaknesses they may have.
  3. The cost is more reasonable. We have found that the cost of the test, scoring services, and the new online tools are less than we were paying for the Stanford. We are pleased with the value and the support we are receiving.
  4. Included with the TerraNova3 are online tools for parents. ACSI Data Online for Parents will allow you to download and save a print-ready PDF of the ACSI Parent Report. This report will contain the child’s score in several different, easy-to-understand formats along with resources to help them understand the scores. There will also be recommendations on how to support their child in his/her academic

 

In summary, standardized tests are an important tool for us as we seek to understand students’ progress throughout the year. However, they are only one measure and they are a restricted to a fairly small range of measurable skills. We do learn a lot from them as long as students take them seriously and do their best on the tests. When thoughtfully analyzed, they help us reflect on our teaching practices, the group of students moving through a particular grade, individual differences, and the efficacy of a particular curriculum. Data in the hands of good teachers (and parents!) is a very powerful thing. It can help our teachers become better at what they do and even more important, it can help them tailor their instruction specifically for your son or daughter. Fortunately, we keep it in perspective and use many other measures to help us gain a true picture of performance and progress.

We appreciate you understanding the need for standardized testing and making sure your son or daughter is well-rested, healthy, and takes it seriously. It is excellent training for them as they will encounter many such experiences in their life and some of them may actually change the course of their career. Thank you for your support of Christian education here at CSCS. If you have any questions about this information, please don’t hesitate to ask by calling my office at 719-268-2100.

Diane Meeter

Executive Director of Academics