Standardized testing tends to ignite fierce debates in education. Many parents and teachers feel concerned about their children and students being judged on the basis of tests that don’t seem to reliably correlate with actual learning or with eventual success in high school. At Matthews Hall, we believe that standardized testing can benefit students – as long as it’s the right test and looked at in the right light. When, to whom, and how are such tests administered? Is the information gained a help or a hindrance to a child’s education?
When we envision a Matthews Hall education, we always begin with the end in mind. What will our graduates be like when they leave? For us, envisioning this “end” involves a coherent plan of programming from Kindergarten to graduation at the end of Grade 8. In the lives of many of our highest-achieving students, this is a committed ten-year relationship with their school (their “second home” and “teacher”). It is through this organic relationship and process, linking home and school, that children develop the desire for academic excellence that propels them into a lifetime of joyful learning. Inspired, hard-working elementary students become inspired, hard-working high school students!
When Matthews Hall students are assessed through carefully-considered standardized testing such the CAT (Canadian Achievement Test), we gain a valuable metric we can use to check the quality of our curriculum and program. With tests created and assessed by an independent organization such as CAT, the scores can be useful because they come from a neutral source and give us data that we can compare to other like-aged students across Canada. Each year we are always impressed by the results!
You will see that over 90% of this year’s Grade 8 class has scored above national norms across a range of foundational skills (see details in the this week’s newsletter). This is evidence of the efficacy and effectiveness of our school’s mission and academic program. Students who attend Matthews Hall, who take part in our comprehensive program throughout elementary school, and who are supported at home do exceptionally well. When combined with our excellent teaching climate and culture, we see that our graduates excel and are very well-prepared. Along with other fine schools across the country, Matthews Hall grads continue to distinguish themselves as very capable, conscientious, and successful students.
It is important to note that standardized tests never tell the whole story of a student’s natural abilities. Parents and teachers understand this and know that a child is always more than the sum of his or her parts. Performance on tests such as the CAT can provide insight and data, but can never be prescriptive of a school’s whole program.
While we are proud of our students’ annual performance on such tests, we always interpret the results carefully and wisely remembering the words of the late great Albert Einstein:
“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”.
Ric Anderson, Head of School