Upon first glance of Smithfield’s RICAS assessment data, one quickly notes the exceptional results of LaPerche students in both mathematics and English Language Arts. Investigating why the school did so well is an enjoyable puzzle to solve.
While more analysis of the data is necessary to learn from these results, we know that LaPerche educators have put significant efforts into teaching students how to “show what they know,” focusing teaching on a specific structure (a “recipe”) to respond to certain types of questions, such as essays about point of view or theme. Students learned how to respond to constructed response questions by supporting their ideas and citing evidence. Also, second grade teachers provide opportunities for students to keyboard, increasing fluency for writing with the computer.
Teachers also review released items and students used an online tool to feel comfortable with the test structure and to build stamina.
LaPerch students spent a significant amount of time on the test; no one rushed. They were encouraged to take their time, review their work and put forth their best effort - not just on that test - but on everything.
At all our schools, attending to the needs of the whole child is most important. Student leadership, physical activity, the arts, and character are areas of focus that are not set aside in order to concentrate solely on test scores. We also, however, want our students to be strong readers, writers, and math problem-solvers and these assessments measure these important skills.