features of these tests and suggests questions you might ask your
child's teacher about testing. Understanding the role of testing will
help you to enable your child to succeed in school and to develop a
better relationship between your family and your child's school.
commercial test publishers, standardized tests are designed to give a
common measure of students' performance. Because large numbers of
students throughout the country take the same test, they give educators
a common yardstick or ``standard'' of measure. Educators use these
standardized tests to tell how well school programs are succeeding or
to give themselves a picture of the skills and abilities of today's
popular tests include
the California Achievement Tests (the CAT), the Stanford Achievement
Test, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (the ITBS), and the Stanford-Binet
Why Do Schools Use Standardized Tests?
help teachers and administrators make decisions regarding the
instructional program. They help schools measure how students in a
given class, school, or school system perform in relation to other
students who take the same test. Using the results from these tests,
teachers and administrators can evaluate the school system, a school
program, or a particular student.
Do Schools Use
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.
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.
They can measure verbal ability, mechanical ability, creativity,
clerical ability, or abstract reasoning. The results from aptitude
tests help teachers to plan instruction that is appropriate for the
students' levels. Educators most commonly use achievement and aptitude
- Evaluate school
- Report on students'
- Diagnose students'
strengths and weaknesses;
- Select students for
- Place students in
special groups; and
- Certify student
achievement (for example, award high school diplomas or promote
students from grade to grade).
Alone Determine My Child's Placement in the Classroom?
give teachers only part of the picture of your child's strengths and
weaknesses. Teachers combine the results of many methods to gain
insights into the skills, abilities, and knowledge of your child. These
- Observing students in
- Evaluating their
- Grading their
- Meeting with their
- Keeping close track
how students change or grow throughout the year.
Standardized tests have
limitations. These tests are not perfect measures of what individual
students can or cannot do or of everything students learn. Also, your
child's scores on a particular test may vary from day to day, depending
on whether your child guesses, receives clear directions, follows the
directions carefully, takes the test seriously, and is comfortable in
taking the test.
How Can I Help My
Do Well On Tests?
Here are a few
for parents who want to help their children do well on tests.
- First and most
important, talk to your child's teacher often to monitor your child's
progress and find out what activities you can do at home to help your
- Make sure your child
does his or her homework.
- Make sure your child
well-rested and eats a well- rounded diet.
- Have a variety of
and magazines at home to encourage your child's curiosity.
- Don't be overly
about test scores, but encourage your child to take tests seriously.
- Don't judge your
on the basis of a simple test score.
What Should I Ask My
Before the test . . .
- Which tests will be
administered during the school year and for what purposes?
- How will the teacher
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
- Should your child
practice taking tests?
After the test . . .
- How do students in
child's school compare with students in other school systems in your
state and 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?
- What can you do at
to help your child strengthen particular skills? What Are My Legal
laws define legal rights related to taking tests in school:
Schools are not, however,
necessarily liable for tests and test results being misused. Your
child's best protection against the misuse of testing is for you to be
knowledgeable about the appropriate uses of various types of tests. If
you suspect your child is being tested inappropriately, or is not being
tested when testing would be appropriate, talk with your child's
- Under the Family
Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as the Buckley
Amendment, you have a right to examine your child's academic records.
If these records contain test scores, you have a right to see those
scores as well.
- Your child has a
to due process. For example, your child must get adequate notice when a
test is required for high school graduation and adequate time to
prepare for the test.
- Your child has a
to fair and equitable treatment. Schools cannot, for example, have
different test score requirements based on gender or race.
following statements true
Are the following statements true
- Students’ knowledge and skills can be assessed by a sample
of content that makes up a 45-question test.
- High test scores of students at any particular school prove
that there is high student achievement and quality teaching at the
- Punishments or rewards to teachers or students based on
test scores motivate them to do better.
- A standardized test score is a better reflection of student
learning any any other form of assessment.
- If the stakes to a test are high enough, people will work
harder and improve their performance to meet the challenge.
These are common myths of high-stakes standardized tests,
which have become the focus of modern school reform and used to
evaluate schools, students and, increasingly, teachers.
Plenty of people believe these to be true, though they are
not, as explained in a new book, appropriately called, “The
Tell You What You Think
,” by Phillip Harris, Bruce M. Smith and Joan Harris. More
publication was prepared by ACCESS ERIC in association with the ERIC
Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation, with funding from the
Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of
Education, under Contract No. RR92024001. The opinions expressed in
this brochure do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of
the U.S. Department of Education. The brochure is in the public domain.
Authorization to reproduce it in whole or in part is gran