Seeing the light – New standardized test results feature easy-to-read summary
If you can read a traffic light, then deciphering results from the state’s standardized test scores should be easier than a Sunday drive.
In the new tests, due to be delivered to parents of students in grades two through 11 in the coming weeks, the use of traffic light colors is the latest effort by the state to make the complex world of standardized test results easier to understand.
Red means the child is below his or her grade-level proficiency standards. Yellow means the child meets basic requirements. Green signifies the child is, in essence, good to go.
The results show how a child’s performance on the Standardized Testing and Reporting exam compares with standards developed by the California Department of Education.
At a glance, one of the biggest changes is an elimination of how each student scores relative to a national percentile, with a greater emphasis on what the scores mean and what specific areas that student should work on, depending on the scores.
It’s designed to eliminate some of the confusion of previous reporting forms, according to representatives for Jack O’Connell, California’s superintendent of public instruction.
There is a smaller box that details how each student compares to the national average in subjects covered by the California Standards Tests.
Subjects covered in the tests include reading, language arts, math and science.
James Meshwert, superintendent of the Pleasant Ridge Union School District, said he applauds the shift to a greater focus on state-based standards, which should give parents a better read on how students compare to the evolving standards set forth by the California Department of Education.
“California standards are some of the toughest in the country and are very fair benchmarks for students,” he said.
Pleasant Ridge is the largest elementary school district in western Nevada County, with more than 2,100 students.
Because of geography and socioeconomic factors, Meshwert said using California state standards is a more accurate benchmark of a student’s performance, though he said gauging performance against the rest of the nation is valuable, as well.
“Competition for admittance to universities is a national competition, not a state or local contest.”
The new reports also provide a written summary of each student’s strengths and where they need to improve.
As in previous reports, for example, a student scoring below state averages in reading can access an age and grade-level appropriate California reading list.
The new reports were prepared in part by Educational Testing Service, a private education research firm that provides testing services for students and education firms.
In a statement, O’Connell said the new reporting system “provides parents with a much clearer plan for action. Now, instead of seeing just a number, parents will receive a clear description of where their child stands in regard to proficiency.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Nevada Joint Union High School Superintendent Maggie Deetz, who said the old national percentiles often confused students and parents.
“We want parents to be comfortable and able to understand what kids are learning,” she said
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