Anna Hoduski along with her brother Nick, sister Sarah Marie (all MCA alumns) and friend Megan Maier are being world changers for Jesus Christ. They have a passion to make a difference in the millions of defenseless babies who are yet unborn who will be murdered under the protection of U.S. laws. Watch this video to hear their story. Join them in a stand for the defenseless.
Today, Mrs. Hanson, Mrs. Sutton and I are headed to Summit Christian Academy to be trained on a new tool that will enable us to be more effective in working with our teachers to maintain and improve effective teaching in alignment with our mission and vision. This tool is an app that can be used on tablets and smart phones and is called eWalkThrough.
This new tool provides the ability for administrators and other teachers to use 5-10 minute observation segments throughout the year to observe how teachers are instructing, provide immediate feedback and a record that can be reviewed and discussed with the faculty member. The tool will include key criteria for effective teaching that are research based and are fundamental to effective learning. It will include a measurement of what level of learning is taking place in terms of simple to complex. There is a measurement of how well the teachers integrates their subject with God’s Word. Other important aspects include class room management, student engagement, instructional strategies and how well resources are used.
The concept is that over the course of the year many short observations will lead to a composite picture and many conversations between observer and the faculty member. These conversations should encourage the teacher where they are strong and provide opportunities for the observer to help the teacher identify ways to shore up areas of improvement.
This is another part of our ongoing effort to strive to provide a rich learning environment that partners with the home and church to produce young men and women who love and serve Jesus and are enabled to be world changers for Him.
MCA received great news about all of our students who took the ACT test last year. They improved the scores for the Academy in every category which resulted in an almost 2 point increase in the ACT composite score to 23.4 (Kansas average is 21.9). Several students scored a 30 or better on the test which is an especially noteworthy accomplishment. Thank you to the students for their hard work, the teachers for their investment in the students and the expertise which they applied, and for the parents for working with the school and their children to help them achieve at this level.
You can see the scores by subject and as a comparison to 2015 at ACT Scores are In.
In my last post I celebrated the achievement of students along with their parents and the Academy in significant improvement in one important measurement of achievement – ACT scores. I mentioned some of the areas where we are working to sustain and improve achievement levels across the Academy. One key focus this year is gaining a better understanding of how we can use our test data to strengthen instruction.
Our intensive dive into test scores from across the Academy began in August. But first allow me to provide some context. Currently the Elementary uses Terra Nova and DIBELS® testing tools. Per the Association of Christian Schools International’s (ACSI) web site, Terra Nova “…is designed to measure concepts, processes, and objectives taught throughout the nation in reading, language, mathematics, science, and social studies.” The 3rd through 6th grade students take this test once a year.
The DIBELS® web site reports that “The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) are a set of procedures and measures for assessing the acquisition of early literacy skills from kindergarten through sixth grade.” DIBELS® Math is comprised of measures of early numeracy, computation, and problem solving that function as indicators of the essential skills that every child must master in order to become proficient in mathematics.
Our 7th and 9th graders also take the Terra Nova tests. Our 8th, 10th-12th grade students take ACT prep and final tests.
Our analysis includes looking back through the years for trends, gaps, and strengths. We are looking at the data first of all from an overall perspective and then beginning to drill down into each school and then onto particular classrooms. We will also help teachers better understand how to use the data to provide differentiated instruction for the students. Training for teachers will be provided throughout the year, and included in the ongoing coaching by principals. Our desire is that we use this data as one source of perspective on the student that will help the current teacher more effectively work with the student. We also will be enriching the process for helping teachers hand off students to the next teacher(s) by including this data in a file that follows the student. This file should be enriched by sharing insight that leads to a well-rounded perspective of the student.
You should begin hearing outcomes of the analysis of this data as you visit with teachers and leaders this year and as we announce adjustments or new programs to build on strengths and shore up weaknesses. Allow us grace as we spend the time analyzing, discussing, planning and adjusting. We are committed to growth and appreciate your partnership in making this happen.
There are many ways to measure the effectiveness of a school. A healthy school will have programs and structure that encourages character development, will have co-curricular activities that help students demonstrate character and achieve success, there will be students demonstrating their love for God by serving Him and serving others, and academics will demonstrate that students are having success and are being prepared for the next phase in their educational process.
One measurement of the academic preparation is the ACT scores. MCA improved in all subject areas this year:
Congratulations to the students who worked hard to make these strides forward and the faculty that worked just as diligently to instill the knowledge and skills to succeed on this test. We were delighted to have an outside firm rank Maranatha with other private schools in the KC metro. We came in #9, and we were the #1 ranked private Christian evangelical school.
However, we don’t stop here. Each class has to make the decision to give of their very best to be able to sustain and improve these scores. In addition, what God has given them in terms of capabilities drives their achievement level. Of course the school must work diligently to draw out the very best from each student and properly prepare them to hit the mark.
So while we celebrate this wonderful progress, we want you to know that we are doing the work to sustain and build on this success. My next blog post will share some of those specific things we are doing in the area of academics. Some examples are analyzing test data to identify strengths and opportunities and then training teachers how to use that data to enhance teaching, getting all of our teachers to put their curriculum in an online tool called Curriculum Trak so we can adequately review and adjust scope, sequence, and rigor throughout the Academy, and standardizing classroom observations by principals and other educators so that we reward right biblical worldview integration, academic rigor, and application.