The recent news that high school students’ SAT scores are at the lowest level in 10 years brings a whole host of questions to me about testing and the quality of education in general. I don’t want to even try to address the general quality question because there are so many factors that affect a student’s potential for success. However, it does cause me to pause and consider what we are doing here at Our Savior’s Lutheran School to promote and encourage the success of our students. Last week I wrote about one success factor explained in a study of students’ pro-social skills. The study showed that students who get along with others, share, are kind, etc. have a dramatically better chance for success in life.
Having said that, the quality of education a child receives does make a difference. Here at OSLS we understand that the quality of education is dramatically increased when well-trained, dedicated teachers have the time to give children a well-rounded education -- one that expects students to think, to grapple with a problem, and to be able to explain what they know. At the same time, there are basic skills that students learn most efficiently through just being taught. We need to produce readers who can gather meaning from text, critique the validity of an argument, and differentiate fact from opinion. However, students don’t become readers until they learn the sounds that letters make, separately and together, and learn to decipher the words that the letters form.
The same is true for mathematics. We have an excellent math curriculum that requires students to actually understand how problems are solved while thinking of more than one way to solve the problem. Our students learn the logic of Algebra in first grade and earlier, but we also expect our students to learn their math facts, memorize processes, mnemonic devices, and songs to help the facts stick.
What we do so well here at OSLS, beginning in preschool, is to combine teaching the basics, the discipline of learning - phonics, facts, algorithms and formulas - with a curriculum that enhances students’ ability to think critically, to explore, to do research, to present a point of view, and to create. This is why our students’ average scores are so high when compared with other schools. We provide a solid foundation and lots of scaffolding while encouraging the students to build something great.
Our goal at OSLS is to send students on to middle school with best possible education and study skills. That education, along with a strong foundation in God’s love, is why our students are so successful in middle school, high school, and beyond.