March 13, 2014

Proven Results

Friends' School alumni, all current
honorees at Boulder High School
....back in the day
Increasingly we are becoming a more data driven society. With an abundance of information at our fingertips, we want to see proof, results, statistics - immediately. 

I remember walking down to the public library to look at Consumer Reports (they wouldn't let me check it out of the building) before making a major purchase – for a car or a camera for example. Now, I can pull up dozens of review sites in a matter of seconds and get infinitely more information and reviews.  And not just on cars and electronics –but on restaurants, bike repair shops, even independent schools.

Increasingly, parents don’t just want to know that their kids are learning and happy in school.  They want proven results.  In the educational world in recent years, that has meant a major focus on test scores. At independent schools like Friends’, who value academics but also value many other characteristics, results are not always a straightforward thing to prove.

In my Among Friends’ essay last week, I wrote that “we are charged with preparing students for their futures, supporting them to build skills they will need to lead successful lives.”  I wrote about characteristics such as: curiosity, passion, commitment, focus, strategic thinking, collaboration, creativity, and emotional intelligence.

How do schools measure such things?  There are more and more tools that are being developed to measure these “intangibles”.  At Friends’ in our upper grades, we use ERB standardized tests which give us one set of data about academics.  Each year our students do very well and outperform their public school peers. But that is not the whole story.

We are focused on the people whom are students and graduates become.  We stay in touch with our alumni and help them to stay in touch with each other.  We hear their stories and celebrate with them their successes.  Our admissions brochures and our AlumniAssociation Facebook page are filled with amazing success stories of adventurous, innovative young people making a massive difference in the world.  They are using their innate wisdom and creativity and passion to change the world for the better. They are inventors and athletes, they are raising funds to change lives, they are writing music and books, and studying to become world-class medics or business owners. 

Boulder High students who attended Friends' and were honored
at the Academic Letter Program last week
Just this week, Friends’ graduate Michael Hansen was featured on the front page of the Sunday New York Times Business Section for his work on developing the anti-procrastination app Finish. (You can read more about Michael in a former Among Friends’ column here.)

Last week, Boulder High School had its annual Academic Letter Program.  Friends’ School graduates were featured prominently.  Students at Boulder High earn an Academic Letter if they earn a 4.0 GPA or above in a semester or a 3.5 GPA or above in two consecutive semesters.  Sixteen former Friends’ School students were honored on Thursday night, in all four classes.  Almost every child in Friends’ graduating class of 2010 who are now freshmen at Boulder, earned an academic letter.

We are proud of our grads, of their academic success.  However we are also proud of their leadership and the differences they are making in their school and wider community.  We know they will all go on to bigger and better things than the academic awards at high school.

But it’s nice to know they’re on the right track.  Congratulations to all!

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