Testing, testing, 1 . . . 2 . . . 3

These days educational testing occupies a prominent place in public discourse.  Group test scores are used to classify schools as failing and teachers as meritorious.  They’re the qualifying time in the “Race to the Top” and the supposed shameful evidence that we’ve left some kids behind.

THE VIEW FROM HERE | With this year’s test results on their way, it’s important to know Cornerstone’s “givens” concerning standardized testing:

>> Standardized testing begins in third grade, after the basic process of learning to read and write has been accomplished.  This honors the diversity of learners at Cornerstone and the wide range of ages at which children come to reading and writing.

>> Standardized testing takes place in the fall so that the results can be used prescriptively.   It is one tool—among many—that informs teachers about the variety of learners they teach and the individual profiles of strengths and weaknesses each learner brings.

>> General trends in our test results speak to aspects of Cornerstone’s curriculum.  They provide evidence that a large number of Cornerstone students are academically adept.  They show us elements of our curriculum that are strengths and those that might need more attention.

WHAT TEST SCORES CANNOT SHOW | Though opinions abound, as to how test scores can be interpreted and used, research clearly shows that standardized tests measure a narrow range of skills.  It is unlikely that they are an adequate reflection of a student’s ability to use higher level thinking skills; like those needed to infer, hypothesize, evaluate, and synthesize information.  The behaviors and inherent qualities of successful learners are just too complex.  Also, success as a learner goes beyond academic achievement and includes social skills that are arguably just as important to that success.

Your child’s Iowa test scores reflect performance on a single day using a limited measure.  Think of them as a snapshot—a still photo through a telephoto lens.  Be assured that Cornerstone teachers have a great deal more information on which to base their judgments and with which to plan curriculum for the remainder of the school year.  We hope you will take the opportunity to get that information first hand, next week during parent-teacher conferences.

YOUR CHILD’S SCORES | If you haven’t had the chance to pick them up from the office yet, we will mail them to you the week of December 5th.

NEW THIS YEAR | On Thursday, December 1st from 5:00 to 5:45pm I will be presenting a short workshop on how to interpret your child’s Iowa test results.  All interested families are welcome.  I will provide an overview of our school’s results by grade level and in comparison to previous years.  “Standard scores,” “percentile ranks” and “grade equivalents” will be explained and parent questions addressed.  We will also post an electronic version of the presentation online.

Kary Kublin, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, works as Cornerstone’s reading specialist and child language therapist.  She has served as CLC’s support services coordinator for the past seven years.

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