Effectiveness and Outcomes
Indicators of School Effectiveness
At The Colorado Springs School we measure and analyze our effectiveness with attention to the school’s inputs and processes and to student outcomes.
We analyze a wide variety of inputs to our school and judge our successes by how effectively we leverage our resources.
Like any independent school, the school’s faculty and programs are supported by tuition, our annual fund campaign, capital gifts, endowment draw, and various other sources of revenue. We are transparent in financial matters and are committed to allocating our resources to accomplish our mission in an efficient manner.
While the topic of inputs includes school finance, it also includes any factor that affects our work. Examples include the attributes of our incoming students, the physical environment of our campus, and the number and distribution of our personnel.
Some examples of inputs at The Colorado Springs School:
- Financial: our tuition to expenditure ratio, annual fund, capital campaign, endowment policies
- Personnel: pupil-teacher ratio, average teacher salary, employee benefits
- Maintenance of school equipment and facilities: regular and effective upkeep of our beautiful campus and facilities, planning for capital improvements
- Policy compliance: National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and Association of Colorado Independent Schools (ACIS) accreditation regulations and processes
- Student attributes
Attention to the processes and methods of education is a very important but not singular way to judge the effectiveness of a school. At CSS we take great pride in the way we view and deliver effective educational practices. We design our curriculum and courses to simultaneously build student skills and knowledge and to connect the learner to a world beyond his/her immediate experience. Our commitment to engaged student learning and our rigorous pre-college curriculum set us apart, as do our expansive programs that extend beyond the classroom.
Some examples of excellent processes at The Colorado Springs School:
- Curriculum and instruction: the delivery of engaged learning on a daily basis, the Singapore Math program in Children’s School, our school-wide project-based learning, seminars (including Children’s School Expeditions, Middle School Seminars, and Upper School Mission Centered Seminars and Experience Centered Seminars), various grade-level interdisciplinary projects, and the Digital Portfolio Project
- Diversity of programming: fine and performing arts classes, electives
- Quality and consistency of internal policies: admission, academic policy, grading, learning team student support, implementation of academic accommodations, the Kodiak Scholar process, course selection
- Level of Parent Involvement: activities led by the Parents Association and Parent Advisory team, hosting of special events, volunteerism, etc.
- Leadership: alignment of curriculum and instruction, innovation, effectiveness, planning, style, and efficiency
In judging student learning and outcomes we look both to short and long-term and internal and external indicators of success.
Some examples of outcomes at The Colorado Springs School:
- Student achievement on tests that measure academic proficiency: ASPIRE, SAT, ACT CWRA+, Advanced Placement Exams, and SAT II subject test
- Student Accomplishments: college matriculation lists, college merit funds awarded to recent graduates, honors, and awards, etc.
- Student/alumni attitudes: results of the High School Survey of Student Engagement, alumni surveys, and engagement rates
- Parent satisfaction: as quantified in end-of-year surveys
- Student retention rates: students opting to remain enrolled at CSS
- Student participation in optional activities: band, choir, athletics, and clubs
- School safety incidents
- Student discipline incidents
- College enrollment, college major, and completion rates
Source: Brief, An NEA Policy. “Multiple Indicators of School Effectiveness.”
As a progressive and independent school, we teach the habits of mind and cultivate a love of learning that produce great scores without resorting to direct instruction or cutting the seminar and co-curricular activities that teach our students to apply their knowledge and to think in new and different ways.
At the same time, as you can see from the following information, CSS students earn high ACT, SAT and CWRA+ test scores. While these are by no means a sole metric and no singular proof of later success, these tests do accurately measure critical academic skills and knowledge. Not incidentally, the ACT and the SAT, combined with a student’s academic record are the most important benchmarks in the college admission process. Our students earn scores that are among the best in the region.
Test results for ACT, SAT, PSAT, and AP Exams:
An explanation of the CWRA+
CWRA+ is an innovative assessment designed explicitly for the twenty-first-century student. Unlike many standardized tests, which measure students’ abilities to memorize numbers, dates, and facts, CWRA+ measures critical-thinking and written-communication skills (such as analysis and problem solving, scientific and quantitative reasoning, critical reading and evaluation, critiquing an argument, as well as writing effectiveness and mechanics).
CWRA+ provides objective evidence that students have
- mastered critical-thinking skills throughout high school,
- have become independent thinkers, and
- are capable of coming up with creative solutions to complex problems.
- Particularly for high school juniors or seniors, such evidence can play an important role in illustrating to colleges and universities that students are prepared to succeed.
In order to accurately assess students’ strengths, CWRA+ consists of two parts. The main component is the Performance Task—a multi-step problem that requires students to think critically while analyzing a real-world scenario and developing a viable yet creative solution.
The second component of CWRA+ consists of a range of selected-response questions aimed at measuring quantitative and scientific reasoning, the ability to critically read and evaluate information, and the ability to recognize logical fallacies. When combined with the scores from the Performance Task, the result is a reliable and valid measurement of critical-thinking skills that are in high demand, not just in college, but also among employers.
CSS Alumni Voices
In what ways did CSS set you up for success in college and in life?
It gave me confidence that I didn’t really know I had. It helped me develop leadership and group cooperation with the experiences at The Colorado Springs School.
Brian Springer ‘04
Again, the breadth of vision for humankind’s achievements, grand tragedies and essential power. A belief in my own agency. A strong love of learning for its own sake. Profoundly expanded horizons.
Laurie Waalkes ‘79
What was transformative about the faculty at CSS?
As educators, they were inspiring and driven without being cheesy or heavy-handed. They were all finely in tune with what each student needed to learn, and their passion for their subjects was infectious. As people, they were empathetic without putting up with any of our adolescent drama.
Erica Fagin ‘08
She rewarded effort and persistence, she did not protect me from failure or lower her standards. Learning to meet those kinds of expectations is the heart of life, no?
Melanie Schmidt Arias ‘98
CSS taught me the analytical skills necessary to understand many general concepts but even more if have me curiosity. CSS engendered in me a curiosity to think about issues outside of the classroom and impacting the world around me. I gained an appreciation for a diverse education and the possibility of discovering new passions.
Ethan Gilbert ‘09
CSS prepared me for college! In fact, I worked harder at CSS than I did in college. Looking back CSS made me appreciate the great life I had and still have and to respect other from all walks of life!
Michelle Legette ‘79
Did a CSS experience serve as a genesis of any of your life passions or professional skills?
Rigor of program, independence, variety of learning experiences, opportunities for personal and academic growth, promoted passion for learning, quality of relationships developed, good guidance counseling, true to the motto of developing creative thinkers and problem-solvers.
Nisse Olsen Welchman ‘98
My AP classes became my college majors. I had a wide range of experiences many my age never had. I had great examples as to what education could be rather than what it is in most schools.
Crystalyne Rosenthal Schwartz ‘01