It’s Test Time!
According to Colorin Colorado, testing is used in schools for two main purposes. One is to find out how well an individual student is learning in the classroom. For instance, teachers can test how well a child is responding to reading instruction by using assessments that measure specific skills necessary for fluent reading.
The other purpose is to find out how well the school is meeting local and national benchmarks for student achievement. For this purpose, schools use standardized tests, which is what March’s edition of Power Parent Magazine is exploring! Understanding the role of testing will help you to enable your child to succeed, and to develop a better relationship between your family and your child’s school.
This month’s Power Parent will walk your family through the following:
- Find out what you can do as a parent to help your student prepare for test day in GOOD TO KNOW: Helping them Prepare
- Review the basics of the MAP test, or the Measure of Academic Progress, in SETTING GOALS: All About MAP
- Learn one way to use your child’s MAP score to guide their reading in CHECK IT OUT: The Lexile Framework.
- Under NETWORK FOR SUCCESS: M-STEP, learn more about this test, which is taken by students throughout elementary, middle, and high school.
- Learn how to help your student with college prep exams in NAVIGATING ACHIEVEMENT: PSAT and SAT.
- Read more about anxiety and how your family can unite to improve the testing experience for your children in FAMILY CONVERSATIONS: Test Anxiety
What are standardized tests? Why are they used?
Standardized tests are designed to give a common measure of student performance. Because many students throughout the state (or even the country) take the same test, these tests give educators a common standard of measure. Educators use standardized tests to tell how well school programs are succeeding or to give themselves an idea of their students’ skills and abilities.
In Michigan, the state Department of Education tells schools which standardized tests should be given. Some tests include the Michigan Merit Exam (MME), the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP), College Board’s SAT Suite of Assessments (SAT), Michigan’s Alternate Assessment Program (MI-Access), and the WIDA-ACCESS for ELLs (a test of English language proficiency for English Learners).
Different types of standardized tests have different purposes. Standardized achievement tests measure how much students have already learned about a school subject. The results from these tests can help teachers develop programs that suit students’ achievement levels in each subject area, such as reading, math, language skills, spelling, or science.
How do schools use standardized tests?
Standardized tests measure students’ abilities to learn in school – how well they are likely to do in future school work. Instead of measuring knowledge of subjects taught in school, these tests measure a broad range of abilities or skills that are considered important to success in school. The results from standardized tests help teachers to plan instruction that is appropriate for the students’ levels. Educators most commonly use achievement tests to:
- Evaluate school programs
- Report on students’ progress
- Diagnose students’ strengths and weaknesses
- Select students for special programs
- Place students in special groups
- Certify student achievement (for example, award high school diplomas or promote students from grade to grade)