As the year draws to a close—with the admission season in high gear for independent schools—I find myself thinking about what we have accomplished at SSATB during the nine months of my tenure. I am pleased with the progress we have made, while recognizing that there’s much still to be addressed in the months (and years) ahead.
We’ve listened, and over the summer and fall we’ve instituted changes in our processes and practices to better serve schools and families. We’ve worked with technology developers to make updates that customers have been requesting for a long time—and I have been gratified to receive some fan mail from admission professionals about those changes, even if we’ve had a few hiccups in getting to a seamless use of the updates. The common message that we’ve heard from families and schools alike, especially regarding the Standard Application Online: “It’s so much easier to use.”
More good news: December 2011 was the biggest month of testing ever in the history of the Secondary School Admission Test Board. On Saturday, December 10, 2011, over 16,000 students took the SSAT. We have never had that many test takers before, and I am proud to report that our team managed test processing and scoring for all students (even those with special accommodations) within 5 days of receipt of the test forms — an unprecedented turnaround time. Though we had to pull 137 tests from Korea due to an irregularity which was reported, that challenge has also been managed professionally, with regard for both the affected students and schools.
We know that SSAT test taker numbers are often early indicators of independent school admission activity and volume. This fall, testing at SSATB has been consistently ahead of last year’s numbers by 11-12%. Will those increased numbers hold throughout the year? If so, we hope that you will begin to feel those increases in the numbers of “serious shoppers” visiting and applying to your schools. Let’s hope that these numbers indicate an economic hopefulness with families who are willing to invest in an independent school education for their children.
Our high number of test takers will add increased burden on admission professionals as you seek to make the best matches for your school. To that end, please know that SSATB fully supports admission work as a leadership imperative. We view your work not just from an administrative lens, but also with an understanding that enrollment management has increasingly become strategic, analytic, and mission-centered. Your work, after all, represents over 80% of the operating budget at most independent schools.
I want you to know that SSATB remains, at its core, committed to the advancement of the admission profession. We are working to build confidence with our member schools and to raise the profile of the admission profession nationally.
This, my first year at SSATB, is the year of doing small things right, as we get ready to do the big things well. We are committed to getting it right—with our schools and their leaders, and with families/students. I am counting on you to let us know when we get things wrong, or when our services could be more efficient and more effective, and I am very appreciative of the many positive messages which have come to the staff this fall about your faith in SSATB.
Happy holidays and here's to a bright 2012 for us all!
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