A little over a year ago we began praying about taking Central Christian Academy through the AdvancED accreditation process. Our current accreditation expires in June of 2015 and if we wanted to change accreditation agencies, now was the time. We had been accredited through ACSI and attended a conference where ACSI was encouraging their schools to gain AdvancED accreditation along with their ACSI accreditation. For a small school like Central Christian Academy, having both did not seem cost effective, since each carry their own yearly fee. As I prayed over the decision, God sent different administrators and spiritual leaders into my path that guided the decision to go directly through AdvancED. I presented the decisions to the school advisory board, who voted to move ahead with the process. It all began in July of 2014. We submitted the application and were scheduled a readiness visit for August of 2014. Typically the process that a school goes through between their readiness visit and receiving accreditation takes two years. We knew that we needed to complete the process in just nine months, so we set out to do the impossible. After all, we believed this is what God had asked us to do and in Him all things are possible. The task was not been an easy one, it completely took the Lord’s strength and guidance all year. There were times when we questioned if we had made the right decision. We saw easier paths that tempted us. We were tempted to quit along the way. However, we encouraged one another, saw God provide strength to some who built up others. When time arrived for the team to evaluate CCA, we were prepared and ready to see Him work. Below is a ten minute show of the presentation we gave to the team. They spent a couple days reading through our reports and examining our evidences. The most exciting thing for us however, was seeing God work through our students as they confidently shared their faith in Jesus with the visiting team members. AdvancED is a network of 32,000 institutions serving 20 million students worldwide. AdvancED evaluates three areas of a school. The scores we received were a testament to the work God does through CCA too.
1. Impact of teaching and learning The External Review Team examined student performance results; instructional quality; learner and family engagement; support services for student learning; curriculum quality and efficacy; and college and career readiness data.
AdvancED’s Network Average
Teaching and Learning Impact
Our scores for the domains in this area were:
Equitable Learning Environment
High Expectations Environment
Supportive Learning Environment
Active Learning Environment
Progress Monitoring and Feedback Environment
Well-Managed Learning Environment
Digital Learning Environment
2. Capacity of leadership The External Review Team examined institutional purpose and direction, governance and leadership effectiveness; stakeholder engagement, improvement capacity and results.
AdvancED’s Network Average
3. Use of resources The External Review Team examined allocation and use of resources; equity of resource distribution to need; level and sustainability of resources; long range capital and resource planning effectiveness.
AdvancED’s Network Average
Our overall scores are something we praise God for!
This week our students are taking the Stanford 10 tests. This is the recommended standardized testing company by ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International). Interestingly enough, ACSI is changing this recommendation to the TerraNova3 test for next year, which may lead some to question why we are still using these tests this year. I questioned it myself and after researching and comparing standardized tests this past year. I came to the conclusion that the Stanford 10 test is NOT a great measurement of what our students should know at their assigned grade level.
So why are we giving it?
Basically, for CCA the reasons are valid. One reason is that we already own it. Testing packages are very expensive and as we are rebuilding our school and operating on fewer students, it didn’t make sense to purchase new tests until we sure which ones we wanted and would best measure our students’ ability and our unique curriculum. In Virginia, our public school elementary students do not take any standardized test a part from the state required tests better known as the SOLs. The philosophy behind this decision is that our state standards exceed the national ones. Therefore, if students can score well on our state tests there is no need for them to take a national standardized test before high school and they take the ACT or the SAT. As an elementary administrator of a private school and a parent I personally find that to be a problem. I want to know that our public school students and our own CCA students are held to the same standards. Public schools have created a “teach to the test” curriculum model that I do not want used at CCA. However, I do want to know that our students could pass an SOL test as well as a national standardized test. In May, we will give our third-sixth grade students an SOL test to make sure. This week, however, they are taking the Stanford. I did make the decision to give it earlier and at a younger level than recommended by the testing company. (Our students are that advanced this year) The question still remains … Why? What do we gain from giving this test if it is not the best measurement? Well, here are a few reasons (beyond cost) why I believe it to be important.
We are able to see where our students compare on a national level of students in their grade. (In some cases the grade above them)
We gain a lexile score for each student that we use to know if they are reading above or below the literature required in our literature-based curriculum.
It gives us an indication of the knowledge a student gains from year to year.
We are given class scores from these tests that provide quantitative information on a teacher’s ability from year to year.
We are and plan to remain an ACSI ceritified school and they require us to have a formal evaluation of testing to compare our students to other ACSI schools. They do not recognize the SOL tests or other state tests in their comparisons.
Testing is an accepted pracitce in our schools today. One that is I believe necessary to maintain. I have not decided yet if we will move to the TerraNova3 tests with ACSI next year or if we will choose another testing company. I will continue to require some form of standardized test so we can gain the information above. We will also continue to give the SOL tests on our own. These tests are not sent to the state or included in the state’s comparisons. However, we want to know our students are being held to the same standards and are competitive on every level and model of education available to them.
I am anxious to see how our students score compared to others in both public and private education. I expect it will be a great year of growth after being challenged with a new curriculum and the creative teaching staff they have been working under.
Want to share this video from Stoplight® with you today. You won’t believe what California school officials found on a classroom wall. In his Stoplight® commentary, Stuart Shepard shows you what they ordered a teacher to take down.
This summer Central Christian Academy is putting up a new flag pole and making sure students are taught pride for our country. In the past people have been concerned that Christian schools limited the exposure of certain material to students and that their education was not well rounded enough. Now, it seems public schools are the ones limiting what our children can see. And those limitations are much more alarming than any I have found in a Chrisitan school.
So what is more American? – I guess that all depends on what you believe America to be. – or more importantly what you want your children to be taught that America is!
Today in my office I saw a new debate rising among educators. – PLATOONING
You need to be aware of it and what it means.
Here is where I stand.
Platooning is the next big discussion happening in public schools. It is all about departmentalizing subject matter and teachers in the elem. grades. Children as young as 6 years of age could be changing classes with teachers in specific subject matter. It’s all for the purpose of meeting test scores. I have huge concerns about this method of teaching. I know that curriculum has become more rigourous through the years and our students have much more they must master at younger and younger ages. – But, what are they giving up to do this? The benefits of a self contained classroom are huge both socially and academically. A younger child benefits from having the same teacher throughout the entire day. At a time when families are not as consistent and children sometimes share 2 homes, it complicates their lives even more to come to a school and not have that one loving teacher who can guide them through their day. Curriculum needs to be integrated as well. Life doesn’t seperate skills out for each of. We do a job or experience subject matter in the real world all together. By plattoning or departmentalizing subjects our students don’t gain an understanding of how math and reading skills go together. Self contained classrooms allow more opportunities for integrated learning. It is interesting to me that 20 years ago the public schools were the ones who fostered integrated learning and the private Christian schools departmentalized subjects. Now public schools are departmentalizing under the term “platooning” so that they can teach material younger by more “expert” teachers and ultimately achieve test scores. Being over a small Christian school, we will remain self contained. Yes, partly for budget purposes – But more so, becasue I believe that subject matter needs to be integrated together and teaching isn’t just covering that subject matter. It is also nuturing a child and building a safe environment of a trusted student / teacher relationship.
That is why Central Christian Academy exists. We don’t just add a Bible class to the curriculum. We integrate Bible teaching into every subject. Just as we expect you to do in your daily lives. And the same goes with all the other subjects. Integrating subjects into daily activities and learning. If you would like to read more about platooning here is a link to an article posted for the Harvard Graduate School of Education. http://www.hepg.org/hel/article/426
Feel free to leave your comments below as well. I am sure the discussion will continue.