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Data Driven Instruction and Portfolio Assessment at CSS

October 13, 2015

Data Driven Instruction and Portfolio Assessment at CSS

Educational theory and practices evolve rapidly and so is the dynamic world for which we are preparing our students. And while CSS has always been at the cutting edge of educational innovation, a great school cannot become complacent.

Average ACT for the Class of 2015As a dedicated group of educators, we are committed to asking two important questions:

  • How do we know our curriculum and practices are effective?
  • How are the curriculum and practices at CSS evolving to better serve our students?

Effective curriculum and practices

Though we only spend a handful of hours testing our students over the course of the year, we measure student work on several well-designed and rigorous, nationally-normed tests. We seize the opportunity to analyze the data for trends and learn ways to improve our programs. Recently, Academic Dean, Mr. Eric Gaylord, gave a Parent Coffee Connect presentation hosted by the Parents Association on Data-Driven Instruction at The Colorado Springs School that summarized the various tests, average scores, and trends at CSS.

Program topics included:

  • An overview of the new ACT Aspire test and a summary of last year’s results
  • A summary of changes to the PSAT and SAT and summary of recent CSS scores on the SAT and ACT (which are well above the averages of local public schools!)
  • An overview of our Advanced Placement course offerings and results

During conferences, 4th - 9th grade teachers and advisors will share out results from last year’s ASPIRE test. Watching Mr. Gaylord’s presentation prior to conferences will be a good primer for receiving this information.

A pdf of Mr. Gaylord’s presentation is available here and a webcast of his presentation is embedded below.

Evolution for the future

Last year we introduced the CSS Digital Portfolio, a new way for students to curate and reflect on their best work in the eight capacities selected by the National Association of Independent Schools’ Schools of the Future Project. While we knew this was an important idea in education and good for our students, our work on this project and was affirmed two weeks ago by institutions outside our own. A prestigious group of 80 college and universities, including all eight Ivy League universities and many of the country’s most selective institutions, announced groundbreaking changes in the way they will admit new applicants. The new Coalition for College Access portfolio system will be offered as an alternative to the Common Application for students who wish to use it, but in the immediate future students can continue to use the Common App as in the past. An essential feature of the new application process is the submission of student portfolio work from grade 9 through grade 12. While the details of the portfolio requirements are not yet released, there are strong similarities to the current CSS Digital Portfolio, particularly in the way that applicants will be asked to reflect upon their work in a brief metacognitive essay.

For more information about The Coalition for College Access please click here. For an independent review of The Coalition for College Access from Inside Higher Ed, please click here. We are proud to be at the forefront of a cutting-edge educational practice and theory and to prepare our students for application to the nation’s most selective institutions of higher learning.

When first semester report cards are released, each report card will host a unique url to provide a path to view your student’s digital portfolio. Students in grades 6 - 12 have the ability to share this link with parents from their google account. Parents of Children’s School students may request access to the link from a teacher prior to the distribution of report cards.

Our next Parent Coffee Connect presentation is entitled The Marshmallow Test: The Non-Cognitive Skills that Drive Success. It will be held on Monday, November 2, 2015 at 8:10 a.m. in LPAC. I look forward to conversations with you about these topics or any other!

All the best,
Aaron Schubach
Head of School

*Correction was made on 10/14/2015: I overstated an important point in my head’s letter during the original posting. The new Coalition for College Access portfolio system will be offered as an alternative to the Common App for applicants who wish to use it, (and it is likely that many applicants will) but in the immediate future students can continue to use the Common App as in the past.

Average ACT for the Class of 2015