by Jen Rosenberg, Principal
Monday morning, the hallway was buzzing with excitement. Was a celebration planned? Was there a field trip on the agenda? Did one of the chicks fly the coop?

The answer is D, none of the above.  The excitement was all about the gum.  You see, children are not typically permitted to chew gum in class but this week is different; this week is IOWA week and gum is allowed during IOWA week.

Every year, Hebrew Day School 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students take one standardized test.  As a private school, we are not required to administer any standardized tests but we choose to do so for two main reasons. The first is because we genuinely use the data to help each and every child.  The data it provides is examined and analyzed in order to help us set individual instructional goals for each student and flag areas for follow up.

Secondly, we use this data to help evaluate our curriculum and instruction.  We look for trends across a single class and multiple classes, across and inside individual curriculum areas.  We look at the data longitudinally and in examining the data over the past 5 years, we know that our students rank in the 89th percentile in reading, 92nd percentile in language, and the 90% percentile in math.  These are great scores, and of course there is also room for improvement.  We know that our students tend to score highest in the area of language usage and expression, and struggle in math computation.

The data this test provides is important and useful. It gives us one window into our students’ learning and the effectiveness of our curriculum and instruction.  As important and useful as this data may be, we recognize and that this is just one lens with which to analyze our learners, curriculum and instruction. We round out this picture with a tremendous amount of observation, collaboration, reflection and a variety of formal and informal assessments. In an age of controversy about standardized tests, I am satisfied that the reasons our students take the tests and the way we use the data are right for our school.

So while the students get the great joy of swappi