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By now you may have seen the news that Marshall has earned its 4th consecutive Red Quill Award from the testing service ACT.

Here at Marshall we value our independence and the flexibility we have to offer a curriculum that is not driven by standardized testing. Our teachers embrace a holistic approach to education and we do not teach to any particular test. We trust that excellent teaching and a disciplined approach to studies will prepare students for “come what may” in their educational future. Nonetheless, it is rewarding to see Marshall students consistently outperform peers in the same testing metrics that are driving curriculum in other schools.

Continual Improvement
Of course it is expected that Marshall students will do well. They are smart kids. The Red Quill is special to our school because it is only given to organizations that show continual improvement in their programs. As Galen Johnson, ACTs assistant vice president wrote: “Winning the Red Quill signifies that a school has made significant and measurable efforts to improve student preparation for college and the workforce.”

Marshall is only one of six high schools in Minnesota to receive this award.

Because testing doesn’t drive our curriculum, we do not talk much about standardized test scores in the earlier grades. However, internally we do monitor our students’ progress, and they continue to perform well above national norms on tests we give starting in the 8th grade. These exams lay a foundation for the ACT test used for college admissions. This data is helpful to our teachers and counselors as we measure progress in our programs and develop a picture of a student’s profile for their eventual college search.

In a time of the year when we are celebrating a number of individual achievements, it is nice to have an award that is a reflection of our collective work together.