About Test Scores
We do not teach to any test here at Chrysalis — we teach for understanding. That’s why we do not give letter grades. We prefer rich interactive discussion and immediate feedback. We do not give report cards, favoring conferences and day-to-day conversations with parents. For example, if your child does not come home excited about learning, or she doesn’t want to come to school, or feels like he has no friends, we want to know.
Yet, we must administer mandated state tests each year to receive state funding. While these tests offer one way to measure a student’s command of a certain set of skills, it is not designed to measure what we think is most important — are we encouraging your child’s light to shine brighter. Still, data is data, and it’s worth taking a look to see how your child compares to others in the same grade, and how Chrysalis compares to other schools. It is reassuring that Chrysalis sits comfortably among the top elementary and middle schools in Shasta County, despite de-emphasizing tests to focus on the "light within", and despite serving a significantly higher percentage of low income students than most other top schools! (FRPM means the percentage of students on free or reduced price meals.)
Although the nature of our program allows us the flexibility to depart from the state standards, the new Smarter Balanced tests are much more closely aligned with our core belief in teaching for understanding and student-directed learning. The previous state tests (the STAR tests) expired in 2013 and were frequently criticized for being a mile wide and an inch deep. The new tests are designed to place more emphasis on deep conceptual skills like solving real world math problems, writing a convincing argument, and critical thinking — skills that Chrysalis has always valued.
We spend much of our time exploring the broader world beyond the content of standardized tests tests and textbooks. Science, nature study, self-confidence and true understanding of academic material are crucial to a child’s development. It is this fundamental aspect of education that drives our academic program, not standardized test scores. We believe that the current focus on test scores (in snapshot mode) is warping public education in a way that slowly but relentlessly deadens the spirits of both students and teachers alike. A significant percentage of Chrysalis families came to Chrysalis because they have watched as their former schools’ overwhelming focus on test scores suffocated their children’s love of learning. They voice gratitude for Chrysalis and our focus on “encouraging the light within each student to shine brighter.”