Building the Bridge between Home and School
by Tyra McFadden
As we move into the spring semester of the public school year, our attention turns to end of the year concerts, class trips, graduation preparation, and of course, standardized testing. Though not very popular, standardized testing is necessary to measure how well students are mastering the core standards set for each subject area. These tests can help teachers determine what lessons need to be covered to ensure student learning and also where students may need more targeted help and assistance. These tests also assist with future planning allowing for appropriate leveling of students in their next grade level.
What is the purpose of standardized testing?
The purpose of standardized testing is to compare the abilities and skills of students from different schools and backgrounds. These tests usually consist of multiple-choice and true-false questions, as well as a writing test. The value of standardized test scores is based on the ratio of correct to incorrect answers. Thus, if all students tested answer a particular question the same way (either all answer correctly or all answer incorrectly), that question has no value in comparing test takers to each other. Standardized tests are meaningful only if they present a comparison of individual scores to a norm group. For this reason, most of these tests also place scores in a percentile rank, indicating how that score compared to every other student who took that particular administration of the test.
Types of standardized tests
There are basically two types of standardized test: norm-referenced and criterion-referenced. Each provides different kinds of information. The score your child earns on a norm-referenced test tells how he compares to other children taking the same assessment that year. This type test does not tell if she has met certain benchmark levels of proficiency. The second type, the criterion-referenced test indicates whether or not your child has achieved set benchmarks.
What is MAP (Measures of Academic Progress)?
MAP assessments are adaptive achievement tests taken on a computer. The difficulty of each test is adjusted to the student’s performance. As the student answers correctly, the questions become more difficult. Students are typically tested at the beginning of the school year and again at the end. MAP tests are aligned to the content and structure of state standards.
What is the PASS (Palmetto Assessment of State Standards)?
The PASS is administered to South Carolina public and charter school students in grades three through eight. PASS test items measure student performance on the South Carolina Academic Standards. PASS test results are used for school, district, and federal (No Child Left Behind) accountability purposes.
What is the HSAP (The High School Assessment Program)?
The HSAP is used to measure students’ academic achievement on high school standards in accordance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Students who meet the state HSAP participation guidelines will take the HSAP. This test is based on the South Carolina Curriculum Standards for English language arts (ELA) and mathematics that teachers use in classroom instruction.
What Parents Should Know
Parents should be aware of the type of test your child’s school is giving and what the assessment measures. In addition, you should be aware of how the data derived from the tests will be used by your child’s school and how this benefits your child.
Do you know what grade levels will be taking the test and the dates the test is to be administered? Are you aware of how much preparation for the test is taking place in your child’s classroom? Review your child’s test results with your school’s assistant principal for curriculum and instruction, their teacher, or a guidance counselor.
Parents should also remember how important it is to ensure your child’s attendance at school on standardized testing dates. As best you can, try to avoid planning trips to Disney, Alaskan cruises, and orthodontist appointments. In addition, make certain your child gets a good night’s rest, has a healthy breakfast, and is on time each day.