Dear Eighth Grade Families,
We hope this finds you well, and enjoying a break this summer.
As you begin to think about your high school journey, we wanted to share some important news about admissions at the Jewish Community High School. As you may know, last year, JCHS launched a pilot program that offered the option of either submitting standardized test scores OR a portfolio of work in lieu of SSAT or ISEE scores. This test-optional pilot was aimed at lowering the stress of test-taking and preparation, and decreasing the financial burden and complication of the application process. This year, we will expand the school’s existing test-optional admissions to all applicants.
We are so pleased to say that the pilot was a resounding success. It confirmed for us that the characteristics we are deeply interested in, such as intellectual curiosity, motivation, leadership, creativity, and a social conscience, cannot be measured by a standardized test.
This year, it does not feel like an overstatement to say that we anticipate a seismic shift for all students in the ways they prepare for high school. We recognize that taking a standardized test may be especially challenging, given the potential restrictions of shelter-in-place orders. For some students, test-anxiety may be a concern, for others, there may be disparities in the equity of access to secure online testing. With these factors in mind, in addition to the success of our pilot program last year, we are announcing that JCHS will be test-optional for all applicants in the 2020-2021 admissions season.
At the heart of the JCHS admissions process is really one essential idea: we want to get to know who you are as a unique individual and a whole person. We would like to see the work of which each student is proudest: your writing, your coding work, your compositions, your writing. For that reason, we will ask students who are not submitting scores, to please submit a portfolio of work with their application. In 2018, when the University of Chicago became the first top ten research university to drop the SAT and ACT requirement, Dean of Admission James Nondorf noted, “We want students to understand the application does not define you -- you define the application." JCHS agrees.
Our school is proud to be a leader in this important decision. Already, many of our peer independent schools are joining colleges nationwide (including the entire University of California system) in announcing test-optional policies for this year. JCHS believes, and our pilot program last year has confirmed, that test-optional admissions is an important way to create a more positive and productive experience for students and families.
We look forward to getting to know you better throughout this Admissions season and we are always happy to answer your questions.