November 2, 2022
As a private, Christian school, we care deeply about the academic preparation of our students. We believe fundamentally that students who are well-equipped academically are prepared for whatever vocation God is calling them to. For those reasons, it’s important for us (and our community) to understand where we are, and how we’re moving forward. Before sharing about our academic program at VCS, let’s talk about the state of academics both statewide and locally here in Solano County.
Current State of Academics in California
In case you missed it, California just released its first student test scores since the pandemic – and the results are deeply concerning. A recently published article in the Napa Valley Register shared,
“There is another crisis that threatens California’s future, not as in-your-face evident as the others but potentially just as devastating — shamefully low levels of learning by the state’s nearly 6 million public school students.”
You can find the full Napa Valley Register article here. It deeply saddens me to see the academic proficiency of our students across California both low and declining!
What About Academics Locally in Solano County?
You can access another article here to read more and also find out how every public school in the state of California performed on the most recent state tests. Locally, K-8 charter schools declined school-wide in ELA by almost 7%, and in math by 15.4%. Vacaville Unified scores declined in ELA by 6.5% (with 45.8% meeting or exceeding standards) and in math by 8.2% (with 28.9% meeting or exceeding standards).
At VCS, we do not assess our students on California state tests. Instead, we assess all students K-8 (and beginning for the 2022-2023 school year, 9th – 11th grade as well) using nationally normed, Iowa Assessments. It is generally believed that nationally normed assessments have higher, more rigorous standards than those assessed by our state. You can learn more about Iowa Assessments here. In math, VCS students outperform the lowest performers in the comparison (with VCS students evaluated on Iowa Assessments) by as much as nearly 40%, and by more than 30% in English Language Arts. Our scores suggest both that we have room to grow academically (against our own, higher standards), but also that we are outperforming many schools in Northern California. Here’s how our most recent scores compare (spring, 2022):
What’s Next for Academics at VCS?
While in my view, student performance on nationally normed tests demonstrates that our school’s academic program is stronger than those locally and across the state, it is nonetheless our expressed intention to continue to improve. In 3-5 years, we are striving to become a National Blue Ribbon School, with proficiency in math and ELA meeting or exceeding 85%. We are also working strategically in other areas to intentionally improve our program:
- Targeted, assessment driven, academic improvement, especially in language arts and math
- Improving AP instruction and performance, including engagement with a new software platform, AP Classroom
- New curriculum reviews and updates in key programs (most recently history / geography K-7)
- Student technology upgrades (by January, 2023, we will have brand new computer labs in middle school and elementary school, and our high school computer lab was recently upgraded with state of the art technology in 2021)
- Development of a high school dual enrollment program offering college credit for specific courses (to supplement AP)
I hope current families are encouraged by our school’s progress and direction. If you are a prospective family considering VCS, I encourage you to come onsite, take a tour, and learn more about what makes a VCS education exceptional.
Vacaville Christian Head of School