The following is the introduction to Bob Carignan’s March 3, 2016 newsletter to the Riverstone community. To read previous Riverstone newsletters, you may link to our archives here. We invite you to subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
Dear Riverstone Community,
I would like to talk about the report completed by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, “Don’t Fail Idaho,” that has received a great deal of coverage in the media of late. I have been asked by many parents as to how Riverstone is doing in comparison to the trends in this report and national benchmarks. I apologize if this is longer than normal, but urge you to read on.
The skills identified in the report that employers are seeking mirrors the skills that Riverstone teaches our students: “performing with integrity, contributing to a team, acquiring knowledge, solving problems, and being able to communicate effectively.” You can see our students putting these skills into action every day:
- Our very youngest students speak publicly about their work during their Primary Years Programme open houses
- Our grade 5 students research and address real-life issues throughout their 8 week Exhibition
- Our Middle Years and Diploma Programme students research and form opinions on topics that are relevant to the real world
- Starting in Middle School, our students have to problem solve and cooperate to set up tents, carry group gear, and prepare meals for their outdoor trips
- Our students work side by side with classmates from around the world and from different backgrounds; real international and socio-economic diversity
According to the report, only 20% of high school seniors in Idaho are prepared for college. In the highest ranking public schools in Boise, less than 50% of seniors are prepared. Using the same measure, 100% of the Class of 2015 were prepared for college.
At Riverstone, every student is required to take four years of mathematics and all of our students are on track to have the option to study calculus in their junior year. Nationally, less than 20% of students take calculus, even less in Idaho.
One hundred percent of our students who attend Riverstone from grade eight on will study a year each of biology, chemistry and physics; nationally only 30% students earn credits in all three sciences. Our students then specialize in one science for an additional two years during the Diploma Programme, obtaining a total of five years of High School science prior to college.
In the last major study fewer than 20% of all K-12 students nationally and under 12% of Idaho students studied a foreign language. At Riverstone, every student from Pre-Kindergarten forward study a second language, with many of our students achieving non-native fluency by graduation.
In line with current brain research, 100% of Riverstone students from preschool – grade 12 take art and music as a core class taught by dedicated specialists. Only 57% of US high schools require art credits to graduate and over two-thirds of those schools only require one credit.
Reading, Writing, and Research
Nationally, less than 25% of grade 12 students write proficiently. At Riverstone, we just mailed our seniors’ 4000 word (14-16 page) Extended Essays to be read by evaluators around the world. My advisee’s research question was, “To what extent did the rise of antitrust law in the United States shape future efforts by the federal government to expand regulation over the national economy.” That’s only one. You can see the topics for the Class of 2015 in our “Meet the Seniors” brochure from last year. They are equally impressive.
The International Baccaulareate Programmes are only a part of our success. At Riverstone, we go beyond, by investing in small classes so that our inquiry-based approach to teaching and applying skills is always hands-on and integrated into our Five Pillars.
What is it that made my family invest in a Riverstone education for our children? Quite simply, my wife and I (a former options trader) wanted to give our children the best probability of gaining the best set of skills possible – exactly those mentioned in the report.
By looking at the above numbers, coupled with our college acceptance success, I’d make that trade over and over again.
Call for anything,
Head of School