From the ERIC database
Talking to Your Child's Teacher about Standardized Tests. ERIC Digest No. 106.
Teachers learn about students by using a variety of methods. They assess students by
observing them in the classroom,
evaluating their day-to-day classwork,
grading their homework assignments,
meeting with their parents,
keeping close records of how they change or grow throughout the year, and
Tests give teachers only part of the picture of your child's strengths and weaknesses. Teachers combine the results of many methods to gain well- rounded insights into the skills, abilities, and knowledge of your child.
This digest highlights one tool that teachers use--standardized tests. It explains basic features of testing and suggests questions that you might ask your child's teacher. By understanding the role of testing, you can help your child succeed in school and can develop a better relationship among you, your child, and your child's school.
WHAT ARE STANDARDIZED TESTS?
Standardized tests are objective tests that are usually created by commercial test publishers. Some names of standardized tests that you may be familiar with include the California Achievement Tests (the CAT), the Stanford Achievement Test (the SAT), the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (the ITBS), or the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, to name a few popular tests.
WHY DO SCHOOLS USE STANDARDIZED TESTS?
Schools do not use standardized tests to label students as incapable of learning, to place students in a grade or class, to give report card grades, or to evaluate teachers.
HOW DO SCHOOLS USE STANDARDIZED TESTS?
Standardized aptitude tests measure students' abilities to learn in school -- how well students are likely to do in future school work. They do not measure subjects taught in school, but rather they measure a broad range of abilities or skills that are considered important to succeed in school. The results from aptitude tests help teachers to plan instruction that is neither too hard nor too easy for students. These tests can measure verbal ability, mechanical ability, creativity, clerical ability, or abstract reasoning.
Remember that standardized tests have limitations. They are not the perfect measure of what individual students can or cannot do. Paper tests cannot measure everything that students learn. Also, your child's scores on a particular test can vary from day to day and many factors can affect a particular score -- whether your child guesses, receives clear direction, follows the directions carefully, is comfortable, and so forth.
HOW CAN YOU HELP YOUR CHILD?
Don't be overly anxious about test scores, but encourage your child to take the test seriously.
Don't judge your child on the basis of a test score.
Talk to your child's teacher often to monitor your child's progress.
Ask your child's teacher to suggest regular activities that you could do to help your child.
Make sure your child does his or her homework.
Make sure your child is well rested and eats a well-rounded diet.
Have a variety of books and magazines at home to encourage your child's curiosity.
WHAT SHOULD YOU ASK YOUR CHILD'S TEACHER?
Which tests will be administered during the school year and for what purposes?
How will the teacher or the school use the results of the test?
What other means of evaluation will the teacher or the school use to measure your child's performance?
Should your child practice taking tests?
After the test...
How do students in your child's school compare with students in other school systems? across the country?
What do the test results mean about your child's skills and abilities?
Are the test results consistent with your child's performance in the classroom?
Are any changes anticipated in your child's educational program?
Are there things that you can do at home to help your child strengthen particular skills?
WHERE CAN YOU GO FOR MORE INFORMATION?
American Federation of Teachers
555 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20011
%ERIC Clearinghouse for Tests,
Measurement, and Evaluation
American Institutes for Research
3333 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007
%National Education Association
1201 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
%National Congress of Parents and Teachers
700 North Rush Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Publishing Co., Inc., 1982.
Herndon, Enid B. Your Child and Testing. Pueblo: Colorado:
Consumer Information Center, October 1980.
Illinois State Board of Education. Assessment Handbook: A Guide
for Assessing Illinois Students. 1988.
National School Public Relations Association. A Parent's Guide
to Standardized Aptitude and Achievement Testing. Arlington,
Virginia: NSPRA, 1978.
Weinstein, Claire E. et al. How to Help Your Children Achieve in
School. Washington, DC: The National Institute of
Education, March 1983. -----
This publication was prepared with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), U.S. Department of Education, under contract R-88-062003. The opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of OERI or the Department of Education. Permission is granted to copy and distribute this ERIC/TM Digest
Title: Talking to Your Child's Teacher about Standardized Tests. ERIC Digest No. 106.
Descriptors: Achievement Tests; Aptitude Tests; Elementary Secondary Education; Parent Role; Parent Student Relationship; * Parent Teacher Conferences; * Standardized Tests; Test Coaching; * Test Use; Testing Problems
Identifiers: ERIC Digests
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