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AABL Test Requirement Questions

Some schools do not require standardized testing for Kindergarten and/or First Grade. Why does Horace Mann School require testing?

Horace Mann School requires the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) Admission Assessment for Beginning Learners (AABL) for Kindergarten and First Grade applicants. The AABL assessment is an iPad-administered, child-friendly assessment of a child’s development in verbal and quantitative reasoning, early literacy, and mathematics. AABL was developed for PreKindergarten through Grade 1 applicants by national experts in early childhood literacy, mathematics, and gifted and talented. AABL assesses constructs that are deeply grounded in theory and research to identify a child’s ability and achievement levels. The AABL has been in development since 2011 and has been extensively field-tested during that time.

Our School’s decision to require the AABL for admission ensures that every applicant for Kindergarten and First Grade at Horace Mann School has completed a standardized measure of reasoning and achievement that is psychometrically valid. While the score report is only one element of a child’s application, it is the only piece of the application that is consistent and objective for our applicants, who come from many schools and many different backgrounds and include children who do not come to us from formalized preschool settings.

We, along with other schools, consider confidential the school report forms submitted by a child’s current school. The AABL results are one part of the process that we can discuss openly with parents.

As for those who would categorize a school’s use of the AABL as high stakes testing, we can respond only from the perspective of how our admissions committee operates when considering prospective Kindergarten and First Grade students. At Horace Mann School, the AABL score report represents a subset of empirically and statistically valid data points that contribute to other subsets of data collected throughout the admissions process. No child is admitted or denied admission to Horace Mann School based exclusively on his or her score report. We do believe, however, that developmentally appropriate assessments are useful tools in schools like ours, both during the admissions process and following enrollment.

We understand that there is a cost for parents associated with taking the AABL. We are pleased that the AABL is significantly less expensive than the ECAA which we previously required. Horace Mann School is committed to working with ERB and other participating schools to find ways to further reduce costs for families in need, now and in the future.

In forty-five years of partnership with the Educational Records Bureau, we estimate that we have received and reviewed more than 10,000 sets of standardized test score reports in their various forms. Those results have been an integral part of our ability to welcome and serve children who are mission-appropriate as we create and recreate a community of learners who share our value of the Life of the Mind. We firmly believe the completion of this assessment to be in the best interests of our School and our applicants.

For more information about the AABL, please refer to the AABL Quick Facts Guide or the AABL What to Expect Guide.