The Road to Success: How CTP Results Can Inform Curriculum Adjustments
When Mt. Bethel Christian Academy (MBCA) adopted the CTP and CPAA in 2010, its students and faculty were challenged in new ways. Their first year of testing, as predicted, did not yield the desired results. The school attributed these lower scores to an unfamiliar testing process and questions that required students to think more critically than previous tests had. However, subsequent years of testing continued to yield results that we were behind other independent schools. MBCA could no longer attribute these less desirable results to a novel testing experience.
It was time to figure out how to better serve their students' academic needs. In 2015, MBCA began by setting some parameters for how they expected their school to perform. They created a matrix to quickly compare their own performance to the performance of the Independent School Norm and identified skills in which their performance was at or above expectations, within 5 points of expectations, or more than 5 points below expectation. This allowed them to identify the specific subject areas and skills that they wanted to focus on improving.
By no means did MBCA want to "teach to the test," but they did need to adjust their curriculum in order to give certain skills a bit more attention. The school came up with a plan that would maintain their teachers' agency over their own curriculum while still deliberately enforcing a process to improve the skills with which students were struggling.
MBCA gave each teacher yearly goals that required them to focus on two assigned skills. These goals were presented in easy-to-understand "reports" that didn't require teachers to do their own interpretation of test results. They gave teachers relevant test results, ERB's definition of the skills, and specific examples of how to target these skills in the classroom. With these clearly defined goals, guidance, and support in hand, MBCA teachers were empowered to forge their own path towards better serving their students.
Even teachers of subjects that don't explicitly align to CTP subtests participated in MBCA's efforts. For example, their social studies and Bible teacher was asked to improve students' Reading Comprehension skills by focusing on their understanding of Explicit Information as they read their textbooks. This allowed the reading teachers to address other Reading Comprehension and Verbal Reasoning skills that were unqiue to their department.
Teachers embraced their yearly goals as personal missions and were creative and purposeful in making curriculum changes that directly impacted student learning. The school also created opportunities for teachers with common goals to discuss what's working and what isn't as well as forums for teachers to ask questions about test results and the testing process in general.
In every year following the program's inception, MBCA has seen improved student scores and increased collaboration across grades and subject levels. Their proactive teacher engagement and treatment of CTP results as a diagnostic tool but never a driver is impressive. Their students are benefitting from an improved and streamlined curriculum while their teachers are invigorated by specific and measurable goals that have already achieved results. In 2018 their impressive CTP scores even contributed to their designation as a National Blue Ribbon School, an honor awarded to only 49 other private schools across the nation.