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Academic Excellence

Weekly Update from the Director - October 20, 2023
Dear Community,

Over the past week, we have begun to dig deeper into our most recent MAP Growth test scores. I also heard over the past weeks from a few of our graduates’ families, providing feedback on how our graduates are performing in high school.
In contemplating these two measures, it occurred to me that the notion of academic excellence is, of course, multi-faceted. It is not standardized test results that by itself defines academic excellence nor do graduates’ grades at the high school level define academic excellence.
Rather, academic excellence is a culmination of several indicators that contribute to an overall measure of academic excellence. Based on educational research and our GISC practices, allow me to introduce indicators of academic achievement that we at GISC will consider in evaluating our school’s academic excellence.
There are six areas of academic excellence GISC should investigate and measure:

  1. Academic Achievement: At GISC, this would be a summary of our students’ grades, their scores on standardized tests such as MAP Growth, and scores on specific academic performances such as our annual Deutsches Sprachdiplom I (DSD I) results in Grade 8. The DSD I results are an important measure as they represent a key component of our educational mission – in this case, fluency in two languages.

  2. Success in High School: Anecdotally, our GISC graduates perform well. That said, we will need to measure specific outcomes such as our graduates’ GPAs, college admissions, and engagement in extracurricular activities.

  3. Student Satisfaction/Student Engagement/Student Agency: We already engage in several practices to foster this type of academic excellence. Examples include a) student-led assemblies, b) IB curriculum framework that values the students' voice, c) inquiry and subsequent student input in shaping student learning, or d) athletic and creative programs and rich after-school offerings. We will need to agree on methods of measuring our students’ overall experience as relates to their satisfaction, engagement, and agency.

  4. Persistence: Helping our students develop a healthy growth mindset is a key component of academic excellence. While school-wide academic results are most certainly an indicator of student success, we also need to focus on individual student results, coaching and encouraging our students to pursue their own learning growth. There is always room to learn more.

  5. Acquisition of Thinking and Social-Emotional Skills: You have often heard our faculty talk about critical and analytical thinking fostered by a spirit of inquiry and grasping conceptual understandings. Similarly, we have talked about our students’ social-emotional growth, learning to care, communicate, and collaborate.

  6. Mission Focus: Always implementing and measuring our commitment to a dual-language program, an international education, and fostering the notion of global citizenship (cross-cultural competence) will round out our GISC commitment.

Over the coming months, I will look to engage students, faculty, staff, the Board of Trustees, and our parents on fine-tuning both our understanding and focus on academic excellence. Ultimately, I plan to collaborate with our Board of Trustees to compile a  strategic plan with a precise focus on our shared understanding of academic excellence.

Thank you,

German International School Chicago is a preschool through 8th grade school that prepares students to become well-rounded, creative, and responsible global citizens. We provide students with a rigorous German-English bilingual education in a supportive and individualized learning environment.

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