June/July Rapp Up

SJA Families,

For my June/July Rapp Up each year, I like to give an overview of some of our data related to academic progress. Our vision statement for our “Scholarship” Key to Success states: “Seeking Truth in a manner that reveals the complexities of God’s creation, inspires wonder, deepens understanding, and empowers students to change the world.” What this means is that we are not defined by what we achieve but what we become; not concerned just with what our students may someday do, but the truth and beauty God offers to them in the present. It is crucial that we maintain this perspective and philosophy.

Having said that, there are certain data points we watch closely to help ensure the quality of our educational programming. Though we aren’t defined by our test scores, they do help us evaluate our effectiveness in the classroom and guide some of our academic planning. Below is a summary of those points we watch closely.

 

ACT

The ACT gives us a national perspective and insight into our students’ college readiness. While we won’t know the class of 2018’s average composite until late August, we do know our average composite ACT score has gone up every year for the last four years (a trend that can’t continue forever, but is exciting nonetheless!). Our scores have raised from 23.6 in 2014 to  25.3 in 2017 while the Kansas state average dropped slightly from a 21.8 to a 21.7.

I am excited not only to see what the class of 2018 results are but also to celebrate a member of the class of 2019! Please join me in congratulating rising senior John Matulis in achieving a perfect score of 36 on the June ACT, an incredible accomplishment! Great work John!

 

Advanced Placement (AP)

Our AP program continues to flourish. We again eclipsed the 500-test mark, with 255 students sitting for 517 exams this spring, and this year we had a 71% pass rate on those exams. This is the highest rate we’ve had since 2015 when only 155 students tested! The growth in the numbers of students involved has been accompanied by a growth in the success of those students on the tests, the two main focuses of our staff related to this program.

There are a lot of numbers related to our AP tests that are impressive, but here are two that stand out: our test scores this year would translate to $541,384.02 in KU tuition or $738,510.00 in Creighton tuition, and our scores over the last five years would translate to over $1.8 million in KU tuition or $ 2.48 million in Creighton tuition! (N.B: those are real dollar amounts based on the KU and Creighton list of accepted scores for credits compared to our students’ actual individual test scores multiplied by the per-credit-hour tuitions at KU and Creighton). This program continues to support our students and families not only by giving them exposure to college-level rigor but also by saving families money!

 

KANSAS ASSESSMENTS

Kansas Assessments also provide some helpful data regarding our general student population (though we most value the data gathered in our classroom assessments and on the ACT). Our assessment scores looked great again this past year, far surpassing state averages and/or remaining competitive with other area schools. Below is a chart with the last four 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 19.9% 30.55% 37.5% 12.03%
17-18 15% 30% 40% 15%

 

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 15.27% 48.14% 33.33% 3.24%
17-18 12% 47% 36% 5%

 

Science (Assessment began in 16-17)

LEVEL 4

Above Expectation

College Ready

LEVEL 3

Meets Expectation

College Ready

LEVEL 2

At Grade Level

 

LEVEL 1

Not at Grade Level

 

16-17 21.36% 38.03% 28.63% 11.96%
17-18 23% 35% 22% 20%

*As you are looking at these numbers, keep in mind that the English and Math assessments are taken by all sophomores and some juniors, and the Science assessment is taken only by juniors, so when you see that 41% in ELA and 55% in Math are not “college ready,” don’t worry…they’re not supposed to be yet! Also, numbers for ’17-’18 are still rounded as data correction continues.

 

I share these data points for a few reasons. First, I know that sending your students to our school involves a financial sacrifice, and I want to share what visible fruit there is with you to edify the choice you’ve made. This investment in your child is worth it; our teachers continue to help students achieve even as our student population has grown larger and more diverse.

Second, I want you to know that our staff takes our jobs seriously. We are professionals who want to give our very best in partnering with our families, so we look at the test scores closely to help us understand our progress in this venture. Third, people simply want to know how we’re doing! This is your school, and we want you to have a feel for how we do on some of these oft-discussed measures.

Having said all that, I reiterate again what we are about here at St. James. Our mission is to pass on the Catholic faith. Our mission is to help parents introduce their children to the living God. This transcends any number, any score, or any data that exists. It means that if our ACT scores drop, we didn’t necessarily fail, and if they rise, we didn’t necessarily succeed.

Our success and failure are determined by our faithfulness to what God asks us to do. He asks us to pursue excellence in all things, to be holy and on fire, and that is why we push our students to be their best.

It’s not just so they can get into good schools or make a lot of money someday (although those could be by-products of becoming who God asks them to be!).

It’s so they can be saints.

It’s so they can show the face of Jesus to the world around us.

I am so blessed to get to work with your kids and our teachers! Enjoy the rest of summer. Rest, pray, read, play, and tell your students to “Come as You Are” in August…hopefully with their summer reading done!

 

Your brother in Christ,

 

Shane