June/July Rapp Up

St. James Families,

As promised in my May Rapp Up, this June/July edition comes with some exciting updates regarding our progress in academics at St. James. As one of our four Keys to Success, we believe that Scholarship at St. James is about “Seeking Truth in a manner that reveals the complexities of God’s creation, inspires wonder, deepens understanding, and empowers students to change the world.” Surely, wonder, understanding, and empowerment are difficult metrics to measure. Because of this difficulty, we believe that the truest assessment of all programs at St. James, including academic programming, happens through the relationships between students and adults walking together for four years and charting progress along the way.

Having said that, we, of course, look to several quantifiable resources to help us gauge this progress. I liken it to us being the Nurses for the Divine Physician: we come in and take the vital signs which help us understand the “patients,” but ultimately, we must be in conversation with them and put those numbers into the context of a personal history and lifestyle to determine health or sickness, progress or regression. And our job is not the end goal; all that we do is to prepare them for the Physician who can heal them and show them the way they were called to live.

Knowing how much you have invested in your children to send them to St. James, it’s important to be aware that as we prepare for our 14th year of existence, the vital signs for our academic program look great!

In addition to classroom assessments, we use three other main measures to monitor growth. Those three are, in order of emphasis, the ACT (and practice ACTs), our AP program, and Kansas Assessments. Each of these tests give us data that is helpful in evaluating how we are doing, though none defines our progress as a school in and of itself.

 

ACT

 

Official cumulative ACT school reports are published at the end of August each year, so I will have to update you on those numbers at a later date, but with 50 of our most recent graduates scoring a 30 or higher composite ACT score, we are confident that this latest cohort will compare favorably with our 2016 graduates who had our highest average cumulative score in school history with a 25.2.

 

ADVANCED PLACEMENT (see full list)

 

Below are some important and, quite frankly, astounding statistics related to our AP program and test results:

  • In 2017, we had 270 AP students (up from 100 five years ago).
  • Those students took 519 tests (up from 137 five years ago).
  • 66% of those tests received a passing score of 3 or above (up 4% from the year before).
  • James had 10 of the 12 students in the entire state of Kansas that took the AP Computer Science Principles* test…and we had a 90% pass rate!

*This was the first year AP offered this course.

  • St. James had 55 students earn AP Scholar distinctions.
    • 27 AP Scholars
      • Students scoring a 3 or higher on 3 AP exams.
    • 15 AP Scholars with Honor
      • Students averaging at least a 3.25 on all AP exams taken and scoring 3 or higher on 4 or more of these exams.
    • 13 AP Scholars with Distinction
      • Students averaging at least a 3.5 on all AP exams taken and scoring 3 or higher on 5 or more of these exams.
    • 1 National AP Scholar (our first ever!)
      • Students with an average score of at least 4 on all AP exams taken and scores of 4 or higher on 8 or more of these exams.

 

This link will take you to full lists of our AP Scholars, but I would like to congratulate Peter Walsh personally on the incredible achievement of being our first National AP Scholar!

 

KANSAS ASSESSMENTS

 

While AP scores and enrollment numbers help us understand how well we are challenging our students and supporting them in meeting those challenges, the Kansas Assessments do provide some helpful data regarding our student body as a whole (though we most value the data gathered in our classroom assessments and on the ACT). Our assessment scores looked great again this past year and demonstrate continued growth. Below is a chart with the last three year’s data:

 

 

MATH

LEVEL 4

Above Expectation

College Ready

LEVEL 3

Meets Expectation

College Ready

LEVEL 2

At Grade Level

LEVEL 1

Not at Grade Level

 

14-15 9.85% 34.74% 38.49% 16.9%
15-16 15.06% 38.91% 32.21% 13.8%
16-17 20% 31% 37% 12%

 

ELA

LEVEL 4

Above Expectation

College Ready

LEVEL 3

Meets Expectation

College Ready

LEVEL 2

At Grade Level

 

LEVEL 1

Not at Grade Level

 

14-15 8.05% 59.71% 28.43% 3.79%
15-16 10.54% 46.41% 33.75% 9.28%
16-17 15% 48% 33% 3%

 

As you are looking at these numbers, keep in mind a few things:

  • These assessments were taken by all of our sophomores and some of our juniors, so when you see that 36% in ELA and 49% in math are not “college ready,” don’t worry…they’re not supposed to be yet!
  • We grew in both Math and ELA not only by reducing the percentage of students that were not grade-level but also by increasing the percentage of students exceeding expectations! We continue to increase our capacity to meet the needs of ALL learners!
  • This year’s numbers are still rounded as data checking continues, hence the inexactness of the ’16-’17 numbers.

 

Numbers don’t define us. We are children of God, nothing more, nothing less, and we will be loved by our Father whether the numbers get better again next year or not. But as a community of believers striving for sainthood, we are called to excellence. We are called to try to be our best. We are called to give glory to our God. I believe our students and teachers have done so in the way they went about their business in the classroom this past year, and I can’t want to get started again in just a few short weeks.

 

Your brother in Christ,

 

Shane