Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School creates a secure virtual admissions process designed to help kids shine

Needing a way to interview applicants remotely while giving parents peace of mind, Holy Innocents’ turned to Kira Talent to create a comprehensive and engaging virtual experience.

As the largest parish day school in the country, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School enjoys a robust and active community of students, parents and faculty. Serving students from PK3 through twelfth grade, the school fosters a diverse and inclusive environment in which students can develop a genuine love of learning. 

Placing a strong emphasis on an applicant’s respect for self and others, and sense of service to the global community, Holy Innocents’ has long incorporated holistic practices into their admissions process. Through one-on-one interviews with each applicant, the admissions team ensured that incoming students truly exemplified their school values. 

When faced with creating a completely virtual admissions process, Holy Innocents’ needed a platform that could deliver the same depth of insight into their prospective students, while being completely remote. 

“We needed to interview our applicants in a safe manner that was not going to be cumbersome to families,” explained Dr. Beth-Sarah Wright, the Director of Enrollment Management at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School. “Thankfully, we had heard about Kira Talent.”

Discover where Holy Innocents’ is seeing their success:

  1. A seamless transition to virtual interviews
  2. Getting in-depth applicant insights by asking the right questions
  3. Bringing out the best in applicants and providing peace of mind to parents
  4. A solution perfectly designed for busy families
  5. Redefining fairness in the admissions process
  6. Staying ahead of the curve through innovation

Making a memorable admissions experience for applicants and their parents

“Prior to Kira, we conducted everything in-person,” shared Enrollment Data Manager Katie Patrick. 

Using Kira to assess incoming students for grades four and up, the admissions team created completely custom assessments suited to each age group. By crafting questions, competencies and rubrics that were designed to effectively and fairly evaluate prospective students, Holy Innocents’ was able to recreate their traditional process in a virtual format.

Traditionally, for middle and upper school applicants – students in grades six through twelve – the in-person, one-on-one interviews centred around the school’s mission statement. Applicants were asked to share their understanding of its meaning and give examples as to how they exemplified those traits in their day-to-day lives.

With the fourth and fifth graders, the admissions team took a slightly different approach. Applicants had a one-on-one sitdown with a teacher where they worked through a variety of homework-style problems. In addition to academic aptitude, these exercises were meant to showcase an applicant’s problem-solving and interpersonal skills.

With a combination of timed-video and timed-written questions completed on the Kira platform, Holy Innocents’ was able to effortlessly transition the assessments for their lower, middle and upper school applicants online. 

“With Kira, we ask applicants some get-to-know-you questions, followed by some open-ended questions which help us assess their soft skills,” Patrick shared. “Our fourth and fifth graders are then also given some skill-testing math questions and reading passages to assess comprehension and fluency. The math and reading comprehension exercises are the same for all applicants, but the get-to-know-you and competency-based ones are randomly selected from a bank of questions that we created based on the student’s grade level.”

An added benefit of the Kira assessments is the opportunity for Holy Innocents’ to showcase what makes their school culture unique. Questions are presented in videos pre-recorded by teachers, allowing the applicants to feel like they’re being welcomed into the school’s community. 

“In a traditional interview, applicants would only meet one interviewer and that would be their touchpoint to the school,” explained Andrew Mack, the Assistant Director of Admissions at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School. “With Kira, applicants are introduced to four or five of the teachers who make up our school community. It gives them a much better sense of what it would be like to be a student here.” 

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“With Kira, we’ve not only replicated our process, we’ve enhanced it,” Patrick shared. “The overall experience is more engaging for our applicants, and Kira has helped us ask more focused and nuanced questions that, while still geared towards our mission statement, enable us to dig a little bit deeper with the students.”

Asking the right questions to find the best students

Backed by a decade of experience, the Kira team helped Holy Innocents Episcopal School elevate their interviewing process, starting with the questions they asked applicants. 

“Kira taught us about the types of questions to ask,” explained Dr. Wright. “The team showed us how to ask a question in a way that really encourages the applicant to think critically, and to respond in a way that reflects their true feelings and authentic experiences.”

“The questions that Kira helped us create were exactly what we’ve always wanted to ask, but were never able to figure out how to phrase properly,” added Patrick.

“We didn’t know exactly what to expect at the beginning, but working with Kira and building these assessments was just a joy and a pleasure,” Dr. Wright continued. “Kira gives us a pretty good picture of our students, who they are, what kind of student they are, what kind of citizen they are, and whether or not they would be a good fit for our school. And that helps us make informed and insightful admissions decisions.”

Creating a secure environment for kids to put their best foot forward

“Kira brought peace of mind to the online interviewing experience that we couldn’t have achieved with Zoom,” shared Patrick. “We were thrilled that it wasn’t going to be just another Zoom experience for students. Our applicants are as young as third graders, and as we don’t allow parents to participate in the assessment, the children were doing this completely independently.”

Kira’s straightforward, user-friendly design made it easy for their young applicants to complete the assessment on their own, while the all-in-one-platform structure ensured that they were safe while doing so.

“The parents really treated it as a professional experience for the children,” explained Dr. Wright. “We quite explicitly said no help from parents outside of technical set up, and parents really responded to that. Kira helped us set the right tone for the interview, so parents were at ease putting their third or fourth graders in a room with their headphones on to complete the assessment.” 

Kira’s structured process, including timed responses, automated transitions and simple, clear instructions, helps keep the assessment on track without requiring assistance from an adult.

By preemptively flagging applicants who require attention, Kira has also helped instill confidence in the integrity of the processes.

“Kira alleviated significant stress from the admissions team.

Knowing that the platform was built specifically for admissions helped tremendously. There were no loopholes, no potential cracks in the process that we had to fill, no way to finagle the system,” explained Patrick. “Everything just automatically works as it’s supposed to.”

By creating an engaging and inclusive environment where applicants feel empowered, Kira assessments help give the admissions team a more authentic glimpse of each student and their unique personality. 

“Extraverted students still thrived in their Kira assessment, just as they would have in person. But for the introverted students, Kira made a world of difference,” shared Mack. “With the in-person interviews, students were meeting their interviewer for the first time and were immediately having to answer all kinds of questions. With Kira, they’re in their own homes, with familiar people. They’re more comfortable, more confident, and it shows.”  

Offering flexibility and ease to busy families

“With any new technology, there’s always some nervousness around an unfamiliar process,” shared Mack. “But once they got into the platform and understood how flexible and easy it is to use, the families and staff members were able to appreciate how useful the platform is.”

The on-demand format of Kira’s Asynchronous Assessment means families don’t have to rearrange their busy weekend schedules to accommodate an on-campus interview. Applicants can complete their Kira assessment wherever and whenever they’re ready to focus and put their best foot forward. 

“The feedback we got from the applicants and their families was overwhelmingly positive.”

“People really appreciated the latitude with which they could complete their assessments,” Patrick explained. “In-person interviews can be extremely difficult for families to get to with their other responsibilities. Whether it’s extracurricular activities, family engagements, or jobs, it’s tough to find the time, especially if you’re applying to multiple schools or juggling the schedules of several children. Families have really appreciated the flexibility that Kira offers.”

Fostering a fair and consistent process

In addition to bringing a new level of ease to applicants, Kira helps Holy Innocents Episcopal School create an inherently fairer process. 

In previous years, the admissions team had noticed how susceptible applicants were to the external circumstances surrounding their interview. Whether it was the decorations in the classroom, the noises from outside, or the interviewer’s mannerisms, seemingly inconsequential factors could tangibly change whether the child opened up, or shied away. By reducing those external influences, Kira has helped create consistency.

“In an in-person interview, applicants may be inadvertently swayed or guided by an adult in the room,” Dr. Wright explained. “Kira lets them respond on their own, without the influence of another person’s reactions or expressions coaxing or hindering their answers.”

Through a structured review process that includes a predetermined set of competencies and rubrics, Kira Talent also brings a level of consistency to the review process that helps the team mitigate bias. 

“Our in-person interviews were one-on-one, so we were relying solely on the feedback from that one reviewer,” Dr. Wright continued. “With Kira, we can get multiple eyes on each student, and all the evaluations are completed individually, so that helps us create a fair and consistent process that reduces biases.”

“Kira’s inter-rater reliability metrics allow us to see how our reviewers scored the applicants; who tended to score more harshly and who was being too generous,” added Mack.  “With the help of Kira, we’re able to gauge what a true and fair evaluation for each student is.” 

Creating an innovative process for a new generation

With technology being a part of their lives earlier than ever before, students today are more attuned to the experience of representing themselves in a digital format. From video games to social media, navigating online experiences is practically second nature. 

Far from being a barrier, this generation of students often feels more comfortable sharing who they are through video. Going forward, Holy Innocents’ sees Kira as a prime opportunity to keep a new generation of applicants engaged throughout the admissions process.

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“We’re looking at how we would combine the Kira assessment with an on-campus visit,” shared Patrick. “As Kira is constantly evolving and offering more capabilities, it’s a way for us to keep our admissions process innovative.”

“Kira was such a good investment for our school,” added Dr. Wright. “We still don’t know exactly what next year will look like, but even as restrictions are lifted we plan to keep Kira as part of our process.” 

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