For this new edition of #HowWeGotThis, Amina MAINE, English Department Coordinator at LFSF, is giving her insights on the Educational Record Bureau (ERB) test in a multilingual environment and the organizational adaptations required during the pandemic.
LFSF: Hi Amina, could you please introduce yourself and tell us more about your role at LFSF?
Amina: Hi, I’m Amina Maine, the English Department coordinator for all three campuses at LFSF. I work with 22 English teachers across all of our campuses. My role is to align our curriculum through the grades and build bridges between the French and English curricula.
LFSF: Every year, LFSF students take the Educational Record Bureau (ERB) CTP5 test, early February. Could you please explain what this test is, what academic objectives it serves, as well as how it is administered in our school?
Amina: The ERB is a non-profit organization that measures student achievement in over 2000 schools nationwide and worldwide. The ERB is a summative evaluation that assesses our students on a whole year of skills, multiple-choice questions that train them for future similar standardized tests.
We use these tests to inform and guide our curriculum and instructions, where we need to make some tweaks and provide support, measure our performance, compare it to other schools, and measure growth in learning at the individual level.
In a “normal” year, we test our students from grade 4 to grade 8. As a lot of in-person teaching was lost last year, we chose to minimize the amount of testing and only have our 5th and 7th grade students take the tests. Because we consider ERB testing as a snapshot of where our students are academically at a certain point in time, taking these tests in 5th and 7th grades made sense. It provides us with relevant data as the 5th grade students head to middle school next year and as our 7th grade students head to their last year of middle school (per US standards). We take these tests on Ipads, and we get the results immediately after the students are done testing.
The ERB tests compare our students’ results to those of other independent schools and public schools […] so it is important to keep in mind that our students are compared to monolingual students. Our students will take more time to develop a vocabulary as rich as their monolingual peers but they do eventually get there and exceed expectations.
LFSF: In your experience, and in the context of a bilingual environment, what does this test show and how is it used?
Amina: The ERB tests compare our students’ results to those of other independent schools (Independent Norm) and public schools (National Norm). Most of these independent schools are not bilingual so it is important to keep in mind that our students are compared to monolingual students. Our students will take more time to develop a vocabulary as rich as their monolingual peers but they do eventually get there and exceed expectations.
With ERB results, it is important to look at data over the course of three years to identify trends. At our school, the trend is that our students have consistently closed the gap in both the national norm (public schools) and the independent norm (independent schools) by the time they’re in 8th grade. This year’s results actually show that our 7th grade students are already over-performing for both the National Norm and the Independent Norm. Our 5th grade student results show reading and writing skills that need to be improved.
Because our audience is bilingual and because we have fewer English hours than a public school or another independent school, it takes more time for our students to close that gap but they do eventually close it and even surpass the norm. It is important to not panic and trust that the bilingual journey is a process that pays off in Middle School.
LFSF: How are our students prepared and supported for this test?
Amina: We take the ERB tests to measure our performance as a school and adjust our curriculum. We explain to the students that these are low-stake tests that will not be included in their college applications and that there is no reason to stress about it. We don’t train our students for these tests and we don’t encourage parents to practice with their children either. We go through a light training exercise so that they know what to expect for the test. On the day of the exams, we start with a tutorial session that guides them through the ERB app and how to answer questions. We make sure they take breaks in between tests and provide them with a bilingual math glossary so that they can navigate the math tests more easily. Students with accommodations take the tests in a separate room with a dedicated teacher.
LFSF: From the management of the test and results, what kind of changes and adaptations did you have to make, compare to the previous years, in order to comply with the health protocols?
Amina: Because our students have been taking the ERB tests on Ipads for a few years now, adapting to the health protocol has been easy. The students learning from home were able to join each test session through an ERB app installed on their laptops or Ipads.
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