Academic Achievement of Rainbow Learners: Alumni Performance After Rainbow
We wanted to track our alumni performance after Rainbow and share just how well our students perform.
Finding data that accurately reflects how our holistic learners perform academically is complex.
Standardized tests certainly don’t reflect our curriculum or our beliefs about developmentally
appropriate education. Our curriculum emphasizes critical thinking and innovation.
In looking at facts and figures in math, Rainbow students score highest on quantitative reasoning and sometimes lower in rote computation. Language arts and reading scores commonly reflect slightly lower numbers on mechanics (spelling, punctuation, etc.), but high on reasoning, analysis, and organizing ideas.
Our Students Are Prepared to Lead
As we move into the age of artificial intelligence, our graduating students are prepared to be leaders. They know how to truly think, design, plan, and act. For a child who progresses sequentially through the grade levels at Rainbow, the early years allow ample time to explore, think, and learn content – especially science and social studies. Students explore their world, ponder it, organize, and eventually learn how to re-create it, with unique ideas.
In later years, students learn mechanics and perfect their computational skills. This allows them to learn those skills quickly and easily. This frees up time in the younger years so that they have every opportunity to “light up all areas of the brain.” They don’t have to overly drill on these few, narrow skills. By the end of 8th grade, our students are ready for high school and beyond. They often test out of introductory courses into more advanced levels of Math, English language and reading, as well as more advanced world language classes.
How Do Rainbow Graduates Do In High School?
One of the most common questions parents ask during the admissions process is “How well do Rainbow graduates perform in high school?” While the majority of our graduates attend SILSA – an all honors science inquiry-based program at Asheville High – RCS students attend a variety of schools.
Recently we asked SILSA and Asheville High to disaggregate the GPA data of Rainbow students attending high school there. They analyzed all 29 RCS graduates, from freshmen to seniors, and compared their GPA averages with the rest of the SILSA student population overall:
We’re grateful to SILSA for compiling this data for us! SILSA often compliments us on our Rainbow graduates. We get news of the many awards they win, and this numerical GPA data is very helpful in helping us track how well our students are doing.
The second most common school our graduates attend is Carolina Day School. We will be sure to collect a list of the many awards they will be garnering at the end of this year. Last year, a Rainbow graduate won the Faculty Prize at the Carolina Day graduation. This is a terrific honor. This prize is prestigious: all the faculty vote for a student based on character, academics, and service.
We are so very proud to send Rainbow students into the world who are accomplished, confident, and creative learners. They are prepared to be compassionate leaders in a changing world. They think out of the box and are poised to innovate.
In fact, our current 4th grade teacher, Susie, shared a funny story recently. In her first year at Rainbow, she was administering a standardized test to her students. She knew she was at a different kind of school when her students started coming up to her saying, “We don’t like any of these answers. Can we just write them in?” This is not unusual for an RCS student, and it’s what sets Rainbow Community School apart.
A rite of passage is an important, sacred ceremony that highlights a transitional period in a person’s life- often marking the departure from one group in order to enter another. Graduation is one of those rites of passage and is also known as commencement, convocation or invocation.
At Rainbow, it takes on all of these forms but at its core is an invocation- this sacred ceremony serves as an invitation of the spirit, a reverence for deep connection, reflection and transformation. Our RCS graduation is one of many shared celebrations, ceremonies and rites of passage that empower students to turn both inward and outward in order to realize that they are part of an integral community as well as something greater than themselves.
As the ceremony opened, we were welcomed by the Executive Director, Renee Owen. She took a moment to acknowledge some of the RCS commencement traditions that make the ceremony sacred. She first explained that every graduating child speaks at commencement- that each child has an opportunity to share with the community a memory that they want to hold in their hearts as they move through this important transition. Their voices are heard, their memories are honored and their growth and transformation are celebrated by the entire community.
Renee went on to explain another important ritual of this rite of passage- centering. As all things at Rainbow begin with centering- from school days, to meetings, to shared celebrations- so does graduation. Renee noted that the purpose of centering is to help each of us bring a mindful awareness to the present moment. She acknowledged the profound importance of the evening’s events and reminded us that…”there will never be another moment like it ever again.”
Graduation centerings are led by the graduates. Last week at preschool graduation, four eager preschoolers lead the whole community in acts of mindful listening, deep breathing, and a blessing of compassion. Last night, seven confident 8th graders lead centering. It began with the song of the singing bowl to gather everyone’s attention. Jackson, one of our graduates who has been here since first grade, stepped up to the microphone and invited each member of the community to turn to their neighbors to greet one another. Gaby, another graduate, then followed with an invitation to close eyes and reflect on the greeting. The reflection was prompted by these questions-
“Did they look happy?”
“What color were their eyes?”
“How long was their hair?”
“What was their name?”
Lena, then approached the microphone and followed with this quote…”Life is a dance, mindfulness is witnessing that dance.” Jackson furthered explained that, “No one in life will guide you to notice the space you are in, so it is up to you to be mindful of your space and body. Now… reintroduce yourself in a centered space, pay close attention to the entire picture, and ask mindful questions.” Another student reflected, “How did that greeting make you feel this time? What more did you noticed?” Finally Harmony, another student closed the centering by leading the group in a deep, communal breath.
RCS closes this rite of passage each year with a song that has held space in this community- as a gift of appreciation- for decades. Last night, this song was meant as an enduring reminder for all the graduates that they are held, supported and deeply loved by their RCS community. Below are the simple but profound lyrics.
Dear Ones we love you, Dear Ones you helped us to grow,
There’s a circle of light around you, there’s a circle of light in your heart.
There’s a circle of love around you, there’s a circle of love in your heart.
Last Saturday 7 remarkable Rainbow students competed at the Odyssey of the Mind state Competition at the Appalachian State College up in Boone. Odyssey of the mind is a creativity competition, designed to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, collaborative creativity and independence… Perfect for Rainbow students.
Our kids (listed at the bottom of this article) did the school proud on the day and carried themselves with maturity, responsibility and respect.
Anyone who worked with them throughout the process commented on how astoundingly effortless their collaboration was as a team. Some of the team had been together since Kindergarten, while some had only recently joined the school, yet they all seemed like family… A true testament to the cohesive and welcoming community we have here at Rainbow.
They ended up as the highest placed team from the entire Western Region in their problem category and division. Although they didn’t place for the world competition they all came out as winners in our eyes, having represented the school while making stronger bonds and lasting memories along the way.
Please congratulate them if you see them around campus!
6th Grade students Gaby McCassim, Harmony Redford, Isabel Raustol, Willow Eshan, Lena Usner, Jonah McCloud and Sunshine Pugh from 7th Grade.
Imagine, if you will, a creative competition that allows students to express themselves artistically, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. These expressions are in alignment with Rainbow’s seven domains of child development. Now, imagine the pressure of performing for judges and parents and against other students.
This weekend our own team of sixth graders, including Isabel R, Harmony R, Lena U, Gaby M, Jonah M, and Willow E, will be heading off to the Odyssey State Tournament in Boone, NC, this weekend to compete on Saturday morning!.
We send them the best energy and courage to accomplish their goals!
It’s always a pleasure to see our students passionate for personal activities. Caleb Mcntosh’s (sixth grade) and Lena Usher’s (sixth grade) poetry was published in the Mountain Xpress newspaper in March. Rainbow Community School is very proud of you! Below are the poems that were published by the Mountain Xpress.
I used to Be
I used to be squeaky, whiny, loud kid,
Now I am not,
I imagined rivers flowing, waves rolling,
I had a thick black hair, blue eyes,
I was a monkey,
Now I am not,
Now I have soft brown hair with bluish green eyes,
I used to be a little kid, now I am not.
-caleb Mcintosh, sixth grade-
Ode to Dance
Dance is like,
A spark, beginning,
Like small thing,
Creeping and growing,
Until you burst. You
Move and create,
Dragging me in,
And pushing me out,
I love the way you lift me
To the hidden world,
inside my heart.
Then you stop,
But with the promise of tomorrow.
-Lena Usner, sixth grade-