ERB Achievement Testing at Woodland School

ERB Achievement Testing at Woodland School

Throughout the past several years, Woodland’s lower school and middle school students have taken achievement assessments through the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) Testing Program.

As described by ERB themselves, this testing series is a rigorous assessment for high achieving students in areas such as reading, vocabulary, writing, and mathematics.

Students in 4th through 7th grade began taking these tests consistently last year, in the spring of 2019. Equipped with newly updated data each year, Woodland utilizes the findings of these assessments to serve a few important internal purposes:

  • Inform the school’s curriculum - i.e. identifying areas of strength and growth in the instructional areas of literacy and math in order to help make data-driven decisions regarding curricular adjustments
  • Share insight into a specific cohort of students, enabling the school to pinpoint year-over-year growth or regression in content areas and make necessary modifications to curriculum and instruction
  • Explore individual student data to inform areas of enrichment and support with expertise from our learning specialist, wherever possible
  • Provide useful data at transition points,  as students graduate from our Lower School Program into Woodland’s middle school, and as students conclude our Middle School Program and head to high school - i.e. high school preparedness

When reviewing Woodland students’ data, our main point of comparison is how our school related to the Independent Norm Group nationwide, i.e. roughly 65-75,000 students in each grade level enrolled in high-achieving, highly academic and often elite independent schools nationally.

With this in mind, data from our 2018-2019 tests revealed:

  • Woodland students in testing grades 4-7 outperformed other schools included in the Independent Norm Group in 27 out of 28 testing categories (The 6th grade writing mechanics subtest was a statistical tie with the Norm group)
  • Woodland 7th grade students* (‘18-’19) made more growth over one year than students in their independent Norm Group in 5 out of 7 subtests between the 2018 and 2019 school year (Exceptions: Woodland students consistently outperform the norm group in mathematics, so their year-over-year growth was less than the norm group)

*Note: Only 7th grade Woodland students took the ERB tests in 6th grade

Also worthy of noting:

  • Testing areas that Woodland students underperformed compared to the norm group in 2018 showed healthy growth in the 2019 academic year, outperforming the same norm group in each of these testing areas, which include:

➢    Writing Concepts & Skills

➢    Writing Mechanics

➢    Vocabulary

➢    Verbal Reasoning

Using this recent data, we have seen positive results in instructional and curricular modifications and improvements made last year which we will continue to implement in the current 2019-2020 year. These adjustments include:

Consistent vocabulary instruction and word study throughout all grade levels each week (Wilson FundationsWords Their Way → Writing Workshop Model). As repetition and practice are key to building fluency in this area, we also monitor and adjust the frequency with which each grade level is taught these skills through their weekly instructional cadence

  • A strong focus on writing mechanics, concepts and skills throughout the Lower School and Middle School programs, with particular focus on persuasive and analytical writing in the upper elementary and middle school grades as these forms of writing are the focus of high school programs
  • Targeted small-group skills work in the areas of literacy and math throughout the elementary grades, informed by diagnostic data from IXL which we piloted during the 2018-2019 academic year and have formally brought on as another instructional resource for teachers and families
  • Reading in context to build greater depth of comprehension, with particular focus on reading and analyzing informational texts using primary source documents
  • Differentiated homework extensions in grammar, vocabulary, writing, and math whenever possible
  • Increased and consistent collaboration between departments and grade levels to examine our pedagogy and best practices, using research and data in an ongoing way to inform decisions and ideas

While the ERB tests are a very helpful tool in reflecting areas of strength and growth in Woodland’s academic program, consistent planning, observation, documentation, collaboration, and reflection by our teachers and academic team enable us to make well-rounded, well-informed decisions about skills and practice from year to year.

For more detailed information about the ERB tests themselves, feel free to review Woodland ERB representative Sarah Savage’s annotated slide deck here from her parent presentation in May 2019.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Innovation Jennie Chip at jchipparullo@woodland-school.org, or Interim Head of School Lillian Howard at lhoward@woodland-school.org, with questions, comments or ideas.