Beyond Assessment: How Testing Can Benefit Your Students’ Learning
An Interview With The Chadwick School And ERB
More than 2,000 independent, public and parochial schools and districts around the U.S. and world use ERB student assessment and instructional programs and entrance exams to improve learning and enhance teaching. At the heart of every school’s ERB partnership is an ERB consultant, an accomplished educator and specialist—from early childhood through high school—dedicated to offering personalized service and support to teachers, administrators and parents.
We talked with The Chadwick School, an independent, K-12, coed day school on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles and ERB member since 2014, and ERB Consultant Sarah Savage to explore their educational partnership. Chadwick uses the CTP 4 for grades K-6 and ISEE. Sarah joined ERB nearly four years ago after a career in a San Francisco independent school, teaching middle school English and coordinating high school placement.
ERB Member Services Consultant
The Chadwick School
Assistant Director of Elementary (K-6)
Q: What did you think about standardized tests when you started at The Chadwick School?
Jacqui: When I started at Chadwick four years ago, I was anti-standardized tests. I had been teaching in South Korea at Chadwick’s sister school. [Back in the States], I went to my first ERB conference in 2015 and learned how to use ERB data. I have totally changed my position. Sarah has really helped us learn to use data to support our kids in the classroom. She leads faculty workshops here and meets with our parents. We’ve created student groups from the CTP 4 data. Without such a personal relationship with Sarah, we probably would not have been so successful [with ERB testing and data]. She’s taught us to use it as a tool. Prior to this, we were using the test to see how we ranked and then were putting it back on the shelf.
Q: Describe ERB’s approach to helping The Chadwick School move beyond assessment programs to enhance teaching and learning.
Jacqui: We are still definitely learning how best to use ERB. Sarah’s approach has been very supportive from the get-go. I didn’t know a thing when I started. I called her, the ERB hotline, and went to the conferences. We did MAP assessments before ERB, and Sarah helped us transition. We feel really close and connected to her. I don’t feel like she has other clients! It’s the relationship that makes us so successful with ERB in our school.
Sarah: Relationship-building is the most important part of my job. I always start with questions and take the time to get to know the staff, culture, and needs of every school. This is unique in the testing industry and due to the fact that ERB is a smaller company and able to give a more personal touch. At a larger company, schools call and get a general customer service representative. My schools know that I am always going to return their calls and emails and that I have their best interests at heart.
Q: Specifically, how has ERB helped your school move testing data into classroom teaching and learning?
Jacqui: Last summer, Sarah worked with our teachers to look at specific data to create student groupings to start the 2017-18 school year. It’s the first time we have done this, and it’s been very successful. They examined the data of their incoming students to see where student scores were low and where students need support and where they scored well and need to be pushed. This gave our teachers a heads-up to what kind of learners they have. I would definitely recommend this to any school.
Q: Describe working with The Chadwick School.
Sarah: Jacqui and her colleagues are very dedicated to using ERB testing data strategically to meet curricular goals. We dig deeper each time I visit. That’s the real power in a standardized test. It provides a big picture and shows trends over time that you can’t get any other way. It’s great for pulling back and getting high-level data to implement teaching strategies to fix any issues. I love a challenge. When I taught, my favorite subject was grammar. My students loved to come up with a grammatically complex sentence for me to diagram and to see if they could stump me. Nerdy, I know, but I loved it.
Q: What about helping parents understand ERB’s standardized tests?
Jacqui: Sarah has done a great job connecting to our parents. She does a whole presentation when she visits Chadwick. Parents need to know how to understand the ERB scores and that it is just one piece of data.
Sarah: [Standardized] tests get a bad rap sometimes from misuse, when test results are the only reason a student gets moved ahead or held back. On an individual student level, it’s very useful to have data for parent conversations. Hard data is a great back-up for what a teacher already knows and sees. We focus a lot on students who need intervention and support, but data is great for students who need accelerated reading or math. At parent workshops, I can’t emphasize enough that standardized tests are just one data point. It’s a great tool to point you to a place for more questions, a magnifying glass to look deeper.