STEM’s seventh-graders are our youngest to sit for the College Board PSAT. Why does STEM ask such young students to take a test designed for High School juniors? Taking an off-level test at a much younger age allows STEM students to finally get a measure of their skills. STEM students often test above the 95th percentile for grade-level assessments compared to other students in Colorado.
Off-level testing began in the 1960’s with Julien Stanley. He founded the Talent Search. Today, students as young as third grade take the PSAT and SAT to qualify for the specialized programs offered through the Talent Search. Summer enrichment programs, typically on college campuses, bring together talented students from all over the world.
STEM students have historically participated in the Talent Search in high numbers and are distinguished by their performance. Recently, we shared that Sri Abhinav Thatavarthi, the son of one of our Board Members, was honored for his exceptional performance on the qualifying exam. Click here to read more about the exciting honor.
STEM’s annual assessment calendar is predominantly state-mandated tests. The off-level PSAT for grades 7-9 is unique to STEM. Although the assessment calendar looks daunting, each student has only specific assessments each year minimizing lost instructional time. STEM does not teach to the test and relies on problem-solving skills transferring to any assessment.
The October STEM Board Meeting is the annual presentation of student performance data as well as staff and parent feedback. STEM student data outperforms DCSD, a high-performing district. Out of 551 Colorado public high schools, STEM School Highlands Ranch moved to 7th as measured by the SAT. Remarkable for a school that welcomes all abilities.
The parent survey was sent to 3,000 STEM parents registered in Infinite Campus. Here are some of the results:
Academic rigor was maintained in a year of Covid
K-5 Parent response: 90% of parents agreed their student was academically challenged and 98% of parents agreed their student had access to real-world applications, problem-based learning, and integrated technology- STEM’s brand promise.
Secondary (6-12) Paren Response: 94% of parents agreed their student was academically challenged and 84% of parents agreed their student had access to real-world applications, problem-based learning, and integrated technology- STEM’s brand promise.
The surveys and student academic data demonstrate STEM’s commitment to in-person learning last year with so much upheaval around the globe impacting other schools. Students and parents had options last year to remain virtual. That option, although modified from last year’s model, remains an option this year.
Profound thank you to STEM’s faculty and staff for keeping the school open and focused on learning. The data tell a story of remarkable academic growth and, for some students, acceleration.
Enjoy the first snow (maybe),
P.J. Eucker PhD