Each year, the Guatemalan Ministry of Education administers standardized testing to 11th-grade students and 9th-grade students.
Nicolás Fund for Education has only been able to access those results concerning Nicolás Christian School (NCS) since the 2018 results became available. Frankly, those first results were disappointing. None of our students passed the national standardized test. What was more disturbing was that very few students from any school in the Ixil area passed this test. Results in more urban areas were also surprisingly low.
Academic Director Bill Safstrom cautioned, “It is important to remember that these tests are aspirational. It is expected that no one will achieve 100% on this type of test.”
Bill Safstrom commented that these initial results were helpful because it provided much-needed information on where our strengths and weaknesses were at Nicolás Christian School and “…the data was a place to start”. The evaluation measures the learning of students throughout their educational history. It is not a curricular evaluation but rather an evaluation of basic life skills.
NCS Math Scores Exceeded the Guatemalan Ministry of Education Expectations
The difference in the students’ average score in relation to what was expected may be because of the work they do at NCS, which is related to the teaching strategies our teachers use in the classroom, Professor Braulio’s educational leadership as Principal, our Christian school climate, and use and creation of learning opportunities. The Ministry of Education takes into account the Socioeconomic and Cultural Index (ISEC) of our students’ families and, based on that information, our average math scores actually exceeded what was anticipated by the Guatemalan Ministry of Education.
Being a Mayan female student is unfortunately associated with lower assessment scores and part of the reason is the lack of support for young women to succeed in school and to pursue secondary school education. Nicolás Christian School accepts the challenge to expose everyone, regardless of gender or ethnicity, to the same opportunities to achieve basic reading and math skills. Fifty percent of our student body is female. Both boys and girls participate in our carpentry program, as well. Some other factors that positively affect the learning of reading and math include attending a school that has a computer lab, attending a school that teaches English, attending a school where the internet is used to research projects, and attending a school where reading for pleasure is encouraged. These are all positive attributes of Nicolás Christian School.
NCS Reading Scores Better than Area Schools
Nicolás Christian School just received the results from standardized testing done in October 2019 for 11th graders. We were delighted to see that 20% of our students passed the reading standardized testing this year! This result was better than any other Nebaj area school.
Emphasis on Spanish Language Fluency is Critical
Guatemala City urban schools averaged 37% of students passing reading – and what is important to note is that those urban students grew up speaking Spanish. Our students grew up speaking Ixil or Quiché and Spanish is a second language for them. These results tell us that our current program focus at Nicolás Christian School on reading speed, comprehension, and vocabulary is working and that our emphasis on Spanish language fluency is critical. One of our students who passed the national testing reading test even had scores described as “Excellent”.
Our results for standardized math testing have also improved. Last year, no one passed the test. This year, 10% passed the test!
NCS Standardized Testing Scores Improved
Each year since 2018, our school’s standardized testing scores have improved. We are growing our program at Nicolás Christian School. Through “teaching to intelligences” and project-based learning, we are helping students who came from an extremely disadvantaged primary school program and we are succeeding through our approaches to helping these students.
Nicolás Fund for Education Pursue Mission to Improve Education for All Students in the Ixil Region.
There are no other good models in the Ixil region to follow, but Nicolás Christian School is creating a good model for others to follow. As we begin to develop and share our digital teaching resources with other teachers, we pursue our mission to improve education for ALL students in the Ixil region so that these students can transform their villages, communities, and the entire Ixil region!
*All pictures in this article were taken prior to COVID-19 restrictions.