Friday, April 29, 2011
"How To Understand Your Child's School Test Measurements"
What State Prescribed or National tests Will My Child Take?
Each State’s Department of Education decides which tests will be given in that state, although the "No Child Left Behind" act is a mandated federal law. Now, States must comply with Common Core Standards (CSS) that require that certain levels of subject matter be taught and subsequently achieved at prescribed grade levels.
Students receive multiple tests regularly in school. Not all tests are the same. Some are formal and nationally standardized which measure content knowledge with thousands of students taking these assessments in all geographical areas. These are typically administered at the end or beginning of the school year.
Reading and math Nationally Standardized Academic Achievement tests are given annually in grades 3 to 8, and at least once in grades 10 to 12 in all fifty states. Students are tested in science at least once during grades 3 through 5.
Many states give additional tests in social science, writing, and language arts in various grades. It will be up to you, as a parent, to discover what tests are given, and when; and where you can fill in by obtaining needed tests for your child.
What are Formative Tests? Other tests are informal measures of learned subject matter like classroom daily written assignments, a spelling test, or simple observations and checklists. These are ongoing on a regular basis to evaluate progress in learning. These informal measures are called criterion referenced and formative. Here is how a parent can be further engaged to help their child:
How Parents Can Engage With Their Child’s Classroom:
1. Connect with your child’s teacher in the school.
2. Call the school office to ask for an appointment with the teacher.
3. Visit the classroom at the beginning of the year in September, and ask questions pertaining to your child’s daily classroom assignments and homework.
4. Ask to see samples of your child’s work, or request that they bring their daily work assignments home that were completed in class.
5. Ask when your State’s prescribed math and reading formative tests begin, how many will be given in the year, and what information is and will be available for your child.
6. Some interim tests may be called “testlets.” The purpose of the testlets is to guide future instruction to close gaps between current performance levels and target proficiency levels.
7. Although every state will design their own test schedules, generally, there will be two-four interim tests during the months of August, October, December, and February, and two final summative tests during February, March, and/or April. Ask when these tests are given at your school.
8. The initial August interim tests for grades 3-8 will show scores in the basic skill reading and math subject matter areas.Typically, all students begin with the same test level and receive baseline scores. Then, these test scores may be divided into three definitive ability areas: (hard, medium and easy).
9. Then, ask the teacher what test indicators are given and where your child fits into the criteria levels that have been assigned.
10. Ask to see the interim test results to define strong and weak areas, and also to help guide your student at home in weak areas with online learning applications.
11. Indicate that you would like to communicate with the teacher following each of the testlet time frames so that your child can show progress in closing gaps, and move up in the defined ability/achievement levels.
12. Ask, what can I do next to support and backup class work, and when can I visit and assist in the classroom next?
Now, you have begun understanding how your child’s class work is being measured and evaluated. This simple checklist is part of evaluating your child’s learning styles, strengths, weaknesses and personal interests. Once you determine these testing and measurement categories – you can begin identifying the right resources to help your child learn in just about every subject matter imaginable.