Holy Cross academics

Holy Cross Catholic School technology teacher Matt Cramer observes students Bella Lauderback (right), Rylin Leach (second from right), Faith Ann Piasecki (second from left) and Hannah McBride work on practice MAP tests in the school’s technology lab.

For the past several years, Holy Cross Catholic School in Defiance has been using the NWEA online Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Growth assessments to track the success of students in the areas of English/language arts, mathematics, social studies and science.

In June, it was announced that MAP Growth was pre-approved for the ninth straight year as a third-party assessment for use by all Ohio school districts for the 2019-2020 school year. In addition, it was announced that third graders who score “at level,” “above level” or “excelling” on the MAP Growth reading assessment, do not have to take the Ohio reading assessment to be promoted to fourth grade.

Holy Cross principal Rose Reinhart shared to parents during recent parent-teacher conferences, that following MAP Growth assessments that were administered in August to K-5 students in English/language arts and mathematics, 97% of Holy Cross students tested “at level,” “above level,” or “excelling.” That means, almost all of the 80 Holy Cross students in those grades were ahead of the curve at the beginning of the school year.

“MAP tests are adaptive tests, and as a student answers questions correctly, the assessment asks more and more difficult questions until a student misses a question ‘X’ number of times,” began Reinhart. “When the student completes the assessment, like all assessments, it determines if a student is achieving ‘below level,’ ‘at level,’ ‘above level,’ or ‘excelling.’

“Our students in grades K-2 were assessed in reading and math, and our students in grades 3-5 were assessed in those subjects, as well as in social studies and science,” continued Reinhart. “When we saw the data, that 97% of our students had tested that well at the beginning of the school year, we were thrilled. That just goes to show how well the staff at Holy Cross prepares our students year after year.”

Reinhart was quick to point out that Holy Cross educators, through the Leader in Me program, don’t spend all their time preparing students for assessments.

“Our staff doesn’t just teach to the test, they educate the whole child,” Reinhart said. “Through the Leader in Me, our students have several hands-on learning experiences, they attend Mass and have religious formation, they have two gym classes a week because we value the importance of physical education, they don’t miss art ... our teachers and aides do an amazing job of preparing our students to be well-rounded individuals and leaders.”

The principal explained that when Holy Cross made the decision to become a Leader in Me school, it was done to achieve academic results such as this, and to teach its students how to become leaders.

“Five years ago, the stakeholders in this school decided the Leader of Me program could help our students achieve like this, and that’s why they decided to invest their energy and resources to bring it to Holy Cross,” said Reinhart. “I want to make sure people know our preschool program had a hand in the results that were achieved, too. So many of our students started in the preschool program, and it certainly shows in our kindergarten results.”

The results from Holy Cross compare favorably, and even better in many instances, when stacked up against all Catholic schools in the Diocese of Toledo. Now, with MAP Growth assessments slated in January in English/language arts, and in English/language arts, mathematics, social studies and science in May, Holy Cross educators are excited to see just how much the students will grow after starting out the year so strong.

“It’s going to be very interesting to see those results,” said Reinhart. “In January we only test English/language arts, and in May we test English/language arts for students in grade K-2, and we test everything for students in grades 3-5. As a staff, we’ve talked that if our students show school-wide growth at the end of the year, we’d like to provide them with an-off campus reward.

“We did celebrate our results with our students in the fall with a PJ (pajamas) and Popcorn Day,” added Reinhart. “We wanted to show our appreciation for the students taking these assessments seriously. During testing in August, we also made a conscious effort to provide the kids with granola bars and fruit (brain food) before the assessments.”

To learn more about Holy Cross, call 419-784-2021, or go to defianceholycross.org.

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