Increasing standardized test scores are not the only important objective at Kindezi. Every day at Kindezi, students spend time learning specials (e.g. art, drama, PE), playing at recess, learning socio-emotional skills, and practicing project-based learning; not because they will boost our standardized test scores but because we believe they are part of a happy, healthy, and balanced childhood. Our mission is to foster holistic development and not just strong test scores.
At Kindezi we do, however, believe that the standardized test scores are a rough indicator of our students’ level of mastery over basic skills—reading, writing, and math—and that those skills are also important. So while we do not prioritize basic skills and standardized test scores over our other developmental goals such as health, socio-emotional growth and creative thinking, we do also aim to achieve high test scores. Below is a report on the successes and opportunities for improvement we have discovered in our first three years of standardized testing.
The standardized tests that Kindezi students took in 2012-13 school year are the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) and Northwest Evaluation Association Measure of Academic Progress (NWEA MAP).
The CRCT is the test that all Georgia students 3rd grade and up are required to take in order to demonstrate their command of the Common Core Standards in Reading, ELA, and Math as well as Georgia Performance Standards for Science and Social Studies. Student scores either “meet”, “do not meet”, or “exceed” grade level expectations.
The MAP is a national test that compares students to their peers in the nation taking the same test. The results are reported in percentiles. Students at the 25th percentile in reading scored higher than 25% and lower than 75% of American students of the same age taking the same test. A student at the 50th percentile would be considered to have an average score.
In our second year, The Kindezi School was a K-5th school. Of those grades, only 3rd to 5th graders were required to take the CRCT. However, grades K-5th took the ITBS.
The graph above indicates that Kindezi students in both 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades are outperforming both Atlanta Public Schools (APS) and Georgia (GA) in the percentages of students “meeting” and “exceeding” standards on the CRCT. No student at Kindezi has ever been retained due to failure of the reading test in 3rd grade or 5th grade which is are high-stakes testing years. Note: data on APS and GA are from the ’11-12 school year because more recent data has not yet been released.
The graph below indicates that Kindezi is generally far outperforming both APS and Georgia in math as well. Since this was our weakest area in the previous two years, this was our area of greatest improvement this year.
The two graphs below indicate that in science and social studies Kindezi is, overall, continuing to significantly outperform Georgia and Atlanta in the number of students meeting and exceeding standards, with the exception of 3rd & 4th grade science. To some extent, 5th grade’s superior performance may be a result of the extra hour/day of instruction that they had. This extra hour will be added to all grades 3rd and up next year and we expect to see the type of gains that we saw in math last year for science.
Our average MAP scores indicate that Kindezi students continue on their upward trajectory relative to the nation. We are proud that overall, the Kindezi students who started slightly below the American average are now significantly above the national average. Starting at the 48th percentile, the original founding grades are now at the 67th percentile overall. That’s a yearly average of over 6 percentiles of gains and we do not appear to be slowing down.
As you can see, in any given year there is always at least one grade that moves down relative to the nation. 3 years of reading these scores has taught me to be calm about such results. Last year it was 2nd grade and before that it was the 4th graders of that year (5th grade in the graphs above). Sometimes learning takes place that cannot be measured on a standardized test. You can see that the 4th graders who went down two years ago, rebounded quite significantly last year as 5th graders and are currently leading the pack.
Testing is funny like that—the smaller the sample group, the greater the error. An individual student’s score can be entirely meaningless. But the fact that our overall average trajectory is in the positive direction tells me that our students are all learning whether they can all demonstrate it on every test or not.
(Note: Normative percentile data from years one and two are based on the ITBS and not the MAP.)
See below for the same graph but including with the newest additions to our family (Kindergarten and 1st Grade).
As you can see from both CRCT and MAP scores, our 4th graders (rising 5th graders) continue to lag behind the rest of the school. This is partly because of the grade’s high special needs population at 25% but that is not an excuse. I believe the grade is capable of the type of jump that 5th grade experience last year and we have our sights set on that outcome. Our recipe is increasing class time, increasing after school tutorial, putting excellent teachers into place, and a climate of very high expectations. I know there is a way because there is a strong will among our entire Kindezi team. Next year will be a big year for our rising 5th graders.