During a school board presentation Nov. 18 on student engagement and assessment, Assistant Superintendent Edgar McIntosh said the district’s ultimate goal is to produce students who are “skillful, knowledgeable and possess the dispositions that position them to be informed, ethical, collaborative, civically engaged, balanced and healthy global citizens.” His presentation to the school board focused on how Scarsdale students are engaged with the curriculum and scoring on college entrance examinations and standardized tests.
McIntosh reported results from a district-led survey of alumni who graduated in 2014, 2016 and 2018, in which 95.7% of the 177 respondents said they had felt better prepared, or as prepared as other students at the college they were attending. He also said 98% of the 2019 graduating class was accepted to college, with 96% accepted to a four-year university, and 64% of the class was accepted to a college ranked “most selective in the United States.”
“We are not a district that focuses just on the outcomes, but we are a district that focuses on the process,” said McIntosh, who serves as the district’s head of curriculum, instruction and assessment.
According to McIntosh, Scarsdale students’ mean combined SAT score results “continue to be the highest among comparable district’s in our region.”
The mean combined SAT score is 1381, which is higher than Edgemont, Chappaqua, Rye, Bronxville, Great Neck South, Great Neck North and Blind Brook.
Scarsdale’s mean composite ACT score is 30.6, which is higher than Chappaqua, Rye, Bronxville, Great Neck South, Great Neck North and Blind Brook. Edgemont didn’t provide 2019 results.
On AP exams, 95% of students scored 3, 4 or 5. Out of 470 exams taken the mean test score was 4.26.
“We’ve ticked up slightly from last year,” said McIntosh.
McIntosh said the district has been reviewing the necessity of signifying AP classes as AT. Scarsdale High School launched its Advanced Topics, or AT, curriculum to replace AP a decade ago. Last spring, the district interviewed teachers about the transition from AP to AT. Over the summer the district surveyed alumni about their impressions of the AT program. In the winter, the district plans to reach out to universities for further input about AT versus AP classes. The district plans to make a recommendation on the future of AP and AT classes to the board and the community in the spring.
Continuing his presentation, McIntosh said Scarsdale students scored well above state averages for standardized tests. On the ELA exams, an average of 85% of students in grades 3 through 8 scored in the proficient range. On the math exams, an average of 88% of students in grades 3 through 8 was proficient.
The variation between Scarsdale’s five elementary schools in ELA and math proficiency was statistically insignificant, but the data showed all five Scarsdale schools tracking higher than those in the lower Hudson Valley region and the state.
McIntosh said the district uses state tests as “a tool to support vertical articulation and meaningful integration across disciplines,” meaning students can use the tests to more easily connect to content between grades, and he added, “State standards are not a curriculum.”
“While [standardized tests] may give us information on trends and program gaps and strengths and alignment with standards, they are a poor substitute for the ongoing assessment that goes on in classrooms everyday,” said McIntosh.
“In general we are less interested in the numerical results of these particular measures than in the textured information they give us.”
McIntosh said the district also looks at other measures beyond testing such as interest participation, project performance and problem-based learning.
“We look at what students can actually make,” he said.
McIntosh also reported that approximately 75% of students in Scarsdale are involved in extracurricular activities, not including athletics. For students who do participate in athletics, there are; 579 students (37.3%) that participate in fall sports, 448 students (28.9%) participate in winter sports and 504 students (32.5%) participate in spring sports.