Standardized Testing

Posted by on Apr 26, 2010 in Parents/Kids Archive | 0 comments

It’s that time again where schools across America set aside classroom time to carryout a series of standardized testing.  The purpose of these tests are to compare the performance of a broad range of students based on standard curriculum in order to determine how well each student has mastered material at a certain grade level.

What is Standardized Testing?

A standardized test is one form of assessment used by a school community.  In most cases tests are designed, distributed, and scored by an outside vendor in order to eliminate bias, ensure validity of test questions, and provide expert analysis of data and scores. Many states have required the implementation of standardized testing to verify that schools are meeting state standards and parents and educators are receiving performance data on individual students.

Most standardized tests are made up of a collection of multiple choice questions based on the prescribed curriculum for each grade level.  However, in some cases tests may also include short answer or free response (essay).

Why is Standardized Testing Important?

According to an article published by Sallfd, Margie an elementary ed teacher, explains that:

1) Standardized testing gives teachers guidance to help them determine what to teach students and when to teach it. The net result is less wasted instructional time and a simplified way of timeline management.

2) Standardized testing gives parents a good idea of how their children are doing as compared to students across the country and locally. This can also indicate how your local area is doing against the national landscape.

3) Standardized testing allows students’ progress to be tracked over the years. When students take the same type of test yearly (adjusted for grade level) it is easy to see if a student is improving, losing ground academically, or staying about the same. (For example, if a child is taking a norm-referenced test and scores in the 75th percentile in the sixth grade and the 80th percentile in the seventh grade, you can see that the child is gaining ground in school.) This helps determine how a child is doing academically.

4) Since all students in a school are taking the same test (with respect to grade level) standardized tests provide an accurate comparison across groups. (For example, this makes it easy to see how boys are performing as compared to girls in a particular school or district.) Over the years great improvements have been made with regards to test bias, which has led to more accurate assessments and comparisons.

When are Tests Conducted?

Depending on the school district, most tests are administered annually in the first half of spring usually between late March and mid April.  Test timings can often times range between four to seven hours depending on the grade level.  In most cases, testing takes about three mornings to complete.  Students are encouraged weeks in advance by teachers and administrators to get a good nights rest and eat a healthy breakfast during the week of standardized testing.

How to Prepare you Child for the Tests?

  • Ensure your child eats a nutritious breakfast
  • Provide your child with a stress free exit when leaving the house
  • Be sure your child has at least three sharpened number 2 pencils with an eraser
  • Ensure your child has a book to read in class in case he / she finishes the test early
    • Make sure your child arrives to school on time
    • Encourage your child to do his or her best and not to worry if he or she is unsure of an answer

To read more on important test taking tips for your children


What do Schools do with the Data?

Schools use the data collected from standardized testing in a number of ways.  The primary use of data is to track student achievement over time across different subject areas in relation to school curriculum.  In addition, test scores give insight into program and instructional needs.  Based on over all data, schools may choose to change educational material, redesign course curriculum, and update program planning.  For example, if scores are high in one subject area over another, schools may opt to temporarily reduce funding for one subject in order to pay for new textbooks for the low scoring subjects.

Standardized test score results also aid in petitioning for new resources such as up-dated computer labs, after school enrichment programs, training sessions for current staff, additional support staff (teachers assistants), or bringing on board educational consultants. 

How can Parents use the Data?

Data analysis from standardized tests can help parents identify areas in which their child needs additional help or praise.  Parents may also use the scores to recognize a deficiency in a specific area of the school’s program.  For example, if results indicate that most students are performing poorly on the math portion as compared to other schools in the district then parents are encouraged to take action.  Parents may want to set up a schedule to volunteer their time to provide after school tutoring to students.  Or parents may choose to raise funds or lobby to develop enrichments programs for the school.

*Find out the testing timings, policies, and procedures for your child’s school

and stay involved in their education!

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