Why are evaluations a part of the school admissions process? What are we looking for and how do we weigh the results at decision time? These are questions on the minds of many parents who are considering Randolph.
As Randolph’s Admissions Office serves prospective families throughout the process of admission to the School, we have a lot of conversations around assessment. We know there are also questions in the minds of many about how exactly we evaluate a candidate and what we are looking for. The idea of a ‘test,' especially if it’s for our kids, can create a little anxiety for both parent and child.
So why do we evaluate, and how do we use those assessments in the admissions process?
We always aim to meet students where they are. We want to support students academically and in social/emotional areas. In order to do that, we try to determine a student’s academic achievement and aptitude as well as his or her social/emotional health.
In the Lower School assessments, we look for reading and writing skills, letter and number recognition, as well as math concept awareness.
In the Middle and Upper Schools, the Independent School Entrance Exam consists of standardized verbal and quantitative reasoning tests that measure a child’s capability for learning. Reading comprehension and mathematics achievement tests provide specific information about a child’s strengths and challenges. There is also an essay portion to check a student’s writing abilities as well as idea development.
We often refer back to our founders’ wise words while reviewing a candidate’s file: “Randolph students are willing and able to do good work.” This is helpful for us and for parents as we determine whether or not Randolph can meet a student’s needs. While the desired mark is often grade level or higher, and testing can account for about 50% of the admissions decisions, we also take into consideration other factors in the decision process, including many character traits such as grit and empathy.
There are quite a few standardized character assessments on the market these days that may work for us in the future to accurately grade a student’s emotional well-being. However, we care deeply about getting to know students personally. We look at teacher recommendations and our on-campus visits to get a feel for a student’s eagerness to interact with others and to positively engage in a group setting. This is such an important part of student success. We feel so strongly about it that we adopted the Responsive Classroom curriculum in the Lower School to help our students navigate the daily social interactions that are an important part of our lives. This assessment can be challenging since it’s so subjective. We are thankful to have many different inputs and thoughts about a student’s behavior.
While assessment can be difficult, more information to aid in the right admissions decision is always better. For older students, we always suggest that other standardized tests be submitted so that we can look at additional scores. For younger students, we might recommend some additional focus on a key measurement to be retested at a later date.
Our Admissions Philosophy is often at the heart of our conversations. We hope it might serve to help you guide your child:
Randolph seeks the very best students and the most supportive families from wide-ranging backgrounds with an eagerness to learn and contribute to our community and programs. Randolph's mission-driven admission practices are established to foster a student-centered learning environment for developing strong character, moral leadership and courageous habits of heart and mind.
In the end, the goal is to help families determine the best placement for their child. Please feel free to contact us with questions at any step in the process.