Our 3rd-6th Grade students are hard at work taking their ERB tests, so I wanted to provide some insight into what exactly those tests are, and why they matter.

The name of the actual test is the CTP-5, produced by the Educational Records Bureau, an organization that’s been around since the early 1900s to promote educational differentiation through the use of standardized data. As a school, we use these tests as a measure of growth, and view them as one piece of evidence in analyzing our program and determining if we need to make curricular changes. This year, we’ve added a science test, as well as an authentic writing assessment; we use those to gather data about both of those programs in 4th-6th Grade.

While some kids get anxious about the tests, teachers are using a variety of different strategies to help ease their minds. For example, they get more frequent rest breaks during the day, as well as more game-based activities during their regular classroom time outside the test. Teachers have written special notes to students, as well as provided gum or candy to help them focus during the tests. For the most part, your children are in very good spirits!

So far this year, though we’ve only taken 2 of the tests, our 3rd Graders have surpassed the independent school norms for Math and Reading. When I first started at HSH 3 years ago, we identified grammar and mathematics as something we wanted to focus on based on past ERB scores. Since that time, while we still have room to grow, we have shown consistent and marked improvement in those scores.

To families with children currently taking the CTP-5 test, I want to assure you not to worry about your child’s score and what it may mean. While they can feel like a big deal due to anxiety about secondary schools, our school uses ERB results primarily as a measure of growth, and secondary schools have placed less and less importance on these skills as a piece of the admissions process.

For families with younger children, the best way to help them prepare for the ERBs is to continue reading with them every day and talking about books, helping them practice their math skills doing everyday activities, and engaging with them while doing their homework each and every night.

—Mr. Nate