If you’ve read some of our blog posts about the classes offered here at Eagle Rock, you know we push the boundary of one’s imagination to create engaging classes for those who are disengaged (see This Trimester Offers Classes from Statistics to Dystopia and Eagle Rock Classes That Add New Meaning to the Term ‘Non-traditional’ for a sampling of our classes). This then brings up the question of how do we ensure students are demonstrating the knowledge, skills and attributes to make the most of their lives now and in the future? After extensive research, we decided to adopt the College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA+).
As Larry Myatt (Co-founder, Education Recourses Consortium) wrote here on the Eagle Rock Blog back in October of 2013, performance-based assessments are difficult to measure but decisive nonetheless. As a result, the CWRA+ has been used by more than 300 middle schools and high schools throughout the United States and internationally. These schools work with students from all walks of life, from the most privileged to most severly disengaged. CWRA+ — which is an initiative of the Council for Aid to Education (CAE) — effectively assesses higher-order thinking and written-communication skills. These include analysis and problem solving, scientific and quantitative reasoning, critical reading and evaluation, developing an argument and critiquing various sources of information, as well as writing effectively. Because of our adoption of the CWRA+, we can stand side-by-side with other schools around the country in demonstrating we are graduating young people with the intellectual skills necessary for life success after high school.
Specifically, the CWRA+ provides evidence that the student being assessed has demonstrated critical-thinking skills throughout high school, thinks independently, and can come up with creative solutions to complex problems. We believe this is superior to the more familiar standardized assessments where the measure of student success relies on an ability to memorize numbers, historic dates, and subjective facts and figures.
A major part of the assessment is the Performance Task, which is a constructed response answer that gives students an hour to respond. Students are asked to use information in several articles, data and graphs to create a written response to a prompt. A second portion of that test gives the students a half hour to respond to multiple-choice questions that test their ability to analyze visual and written information shared in the original performance task.
Here at Eagle Rock, we offer the test twice each year. We test our newest students in the fall and our most veteran students take the test in the spring. In addition to providing baseline and exit data for our students, the CWRA+ provides a statistical analysis that demonstrates the degree to which Eagle Rock has added value to our students intellectual abilities over the course of their time here in Estes Park. That said, caution should be applied to interpreting our small samples of data thus far, but so far we regularly demonstrate more value added to our students growth than the national average.
We appreciate that the CWRA+ is more closely aligned to skills we consider important, and that it seeks information on what we believe is important. As a result, we can safely create compelling and outside-of-the-box classes as long as we are assuring our stakeholders and ourselves there is evidence of students attaining proficiency in reasoning skills that all good schools aspire to.
Learn more by reading up on the College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA+) online.