This summer, our board and leadership discussed whether to continue to use the ERB as an entrance requirement, following this guiding question: how can we align our admissions requirements and assessments with our vision, values and mission? How can we maintain our admissions process as a conversation about children and families that includes skills and dispositions but is not governed by them?
The admissions process at Blue School has always been a conversation between the family and the school over time. It is a statement our families and educators make about our shared hopes for children and our world. It reflects the seriousness of the commitment we make together to share responsibility for each child during this critical and foundational first decade of life. During our process, we strive to understand each child as a learner, a person, and a member of a family through time together, observation, and assessment. We have this thorough process because once committed, a Blue School education requires that families and children work hard with us to develop strong voices and become engineers of an ethical and harmonious future. It is joyous and meaningful work, and we want our families as partners in it.
For years, however, we have felt that the ERB did not provide adequate information for the way we see learning, achievement, growth and success at our school. We have also been concerned that its use as a universal entry test by independent schools could contribute to a culture of testing and test prep at an inappropriate developmental stage (see Jennifer Senior's "The Junior Meritocracy" in New York Magazine or Jenny Anderson's “Schools Ask: Gifted or Just Well Prepared,” in The New York Times). In our discussions this summer, we were reminded again and again that despite the widespread use of the ERB, we find our own assessments are deeper, more meaningful, and more effective in assessing skills, strengths and readiness for the environment we have created at Blue School.
So together, in August, our board and leadership decided to drop the ERB as an entrance requirement. Now, you will find no mention of the ERB in the description of our admissions process. On Friday, we were glad to see, according to the New York Times's "Private Schools are Expected to Drop a Dreaded Entrance Test," that so many other schools (in addition to those few who have already changed their requirements) are also asking important questions about how we align what we know about children and learning with our entrance requirements in New York City independent schools.
We are looking forward to the bigger conversations that we hope this shift will provoke for many schools, as we further align the beliefs and practices in our schools with the outcomes we hope they will achieve. We look forward to the dialogue, as always, with you.