Why We Teach It
What if a test could answer this important question: Does The Lexington School fulfill its Mission and Philosophy Statement? Math and vocabulary skills are more concrete, and standardized tests have fairly successfully measured them through the years. Yet the life skills and character traits that The Lexington School and many other independent schools value such as perseverance, work ethic, integrity, lifelong learning, and teamwork are much more difficult to measure and assess.
What it Is
The Lexington School, along with fellow schools from the Elementary Schools Research Collaborative (ESRC) made a groundbreaking shift in the focus of assessment in our schools. The Mission Skills Assessment (MSA) was developed with the sole intent of measuring the skills that schools like The Lexington School hold in highest regard. These are the skills woven into the school's mission statement and philosophy of education.
The Lexington School and ESRC formed a partnership with ETS, the well-known non-profit testing organization based in Princeton, NJ. A research team from ETS’s Center for New Constructs worked to determine whether it is possible to assess “21st century skills” with a standardized test. Their findings show that The Lexington School can measure skills in its mission with reliability and validity. The MSA is a valid test. The MSA differs from typical standardized tests. It is web-based and given twice a year. It takes less time than other tests, approximately 60 minutes and has six subtests which include creative thinking, intellectual curiosity, collaboration, resilience, ethics, and time management.
The Lexington School is proud to have led the way in designing a test that accesses many of these “21st century skills.” While it is unlikely that any test will be able to truly assess the genuine abilities of every child, TLS is excited to be a part of a pioneering group of educators who are looking for a more authentic way to determine whether we—as a school—are doing what we truly say we are doing.