When you enroll at MCA, our understanding and hope is that you understand our mission and purpose is unique among the academic choices which exist in our society. No other kind of school works to make the connection between a child's development of knowledge and practical life skills that will enable them to develop a career or handle a job which will support their family and fulfill God's purpose for their life and the development and formation of their Christian faith. We acknowledge God as our creator and in so doing, we acknowledge that each child has been given a mission and purpose in life that they begin to develop when they trust Christ as their savior. We see the school experience as discipleship and instead of separating faith formation from academic achievement, we put the two things together so that students not only learn valuable, marketable skills but they also understand that life's problems are only resolved by trusting God, not by depending on human intellect alone. Christian schools are the only educational institutions which operate under that educational philosophy. We hope that this is the priority for each family who enrolls their children at MCA.
MCA does not screen students by requiring an admissions test to enroll. Academics are important to us but we believe that every child should have the opportunity to learn in a Christian school environment and that their faith formation is a priority. Many "private" schools, including some Christian schools, exclude students who are not able to pass an entrance exam from enrollment. We believe that faith formation of our students is the most important achievement coming out of their school experience. Not everyone will be a valedictorian, salutatorian or honor student when it comes to their math, history, science and verbal skills grades but our desire is that every child who graduates from our school does so with a love for God, an understanding of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for them and the example for living that he taught and set and a commitment to serve as a "citizen of the Kingdom" through their local church. Some of them will be doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers and business executives while others will be plumbers, construction workers, truck drivers, waitresses and a few will be pastors, children's ministers and missionaries. But our desire is that all of them be servants of Christ's kingdom in the church and Christians who make their ministry to others a priority.
That doesn't mean our academics are inferior to that of other schools. The measurements and assessments we use to measure student progress are based on standards required of all schools, specifically those in the same city and state. By comparison, the academic program at MCA is equally as rigorous as that found at other Christian, parochial, faith-based schools in our city. MCA's students, collectively, rank in the top two "quartiles" when compared to students nationally in mathematics and language arts (grammar, writing, vocabulary, spelling, reading). We use an achievement test that is based on national standards and while each individual student's score varies widely depending on their ability and effort, our school scores indicate that we do better than two-thirds of all the schools nationally who use this assessment. This includes all kinds of schools, public, charter, private, religious-based, academic-oriented and on-line. Considering that we are an inner-city school, with a third of our students coming from non-native English speaking families and from diverse economic and cultural backgrounds, those results indicate that the academics at MCA are excellent.
The results of our assessment can be broken down into three specific ways of measuring achievement:
- The Percentile Rank measures how the students on each grade level scored in mathematics and language arts compared to the other students who took the same test. MCA's percentile ranks range from 65% to 75%, meaning that our students did better than 65 to 75 percent of the students in the other schools who took the same assessment. Generally, the smaller the class, the higher the percentile.
- The Grade Level Equivalent measures the progress that students made in advancing toward the next grade level. For example, a class that meets the academic standards of the test would advance one percentage point, or 1.0, during the course of a school year if they had met the expectations of their grade level progress. MCA's classes advanced an average of 1.6 points, meaning that our curriculum and instruction effectively prepares students for work that is advanced above the grade level expectations of the test's standards.
- The Curve Equivalency measures mastery of the essential learning objectives. This is really an indication of the quality of instruction by teachers as well as the quality of the curriculum materials that are used in the classroom. On a graph, curve equivalency is measured by the famous "bell curve." The mid-point of student achievement is based on the percentile point where the "peak" of the curve represents the score that is in the exact "middle" of the students scores, with half getting scores higher than the middle, and half getting scores lower than the middle. The middle point for all the students nationally who took the same assessment was 52%. The middle point for MCA's students averaged above 90% and we had two grades where all of the students were above the middle point.