Five Things Parents Should Know About End-Of-Year Testing
They don't always measure what we think they do...
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The positive is that it usually works. Students score a little better on the state exam. However, research shows that states that focus on accountability perform much worse on nationwide and international tests than states that place less emphasis on accountability. It turns out the time your teacher spent in class talking about answer B and #2 pencils would have been better spent teaching you more academic content.
4. Different tests tell us about individual learning. So if our current tests aren’t telling us what we need to know about individual students, what can we do? In short, we need to do more testing, which sounds crazy. We need to make sure we’re doing different kinds of testing so we get good group data AND good individual data. We can best measure individual growth with authentic tests that are integrated into learning. Assessment is authentic when it asks students to apply their knowledge to real-world, meaningful problems.
Imagine you’re back in geometry class and need to learn about volume. Would you rather have your teacher tell you the formula and give you a worksheet to practice (how we’d learn if standardized test grades were the goal) or could you learn more if your teacher gave you a project to come up with a better juice box that minimized shipping costs and maximized profits?
Teachers do this kind of assessment almost reflexively, whether students are raising their hands to answer a question, working in small groups, or doing independent research. One of the difficulties with this kind of assessment, however, is that the rich experiential data in classrooms is often lost. Fortunately, schools more often have access to technology that will help teachers do assessment, quickly see results, and then make important decisions about what students know.
5. How can I make sure my child is doing well? Be involved. Districts are great at letting parents know when and how students will participate in standardized tests, but the only way to know about what’s happening in the classroom is to talk with your child’s teacher.
Teachers are experts--they know how important assessment is and how to do it well. Don’t be afraid to ask how your child will be graded on what they learn, what success looks like, or how much time will be spent preparing for standardized tests.