How Your Child May Be Evaluated Without the Use of Tests

Introduction

Schools use a variety of ways to determine the different academic, social, intellectual, behavioral, and emotional levels of children in school to help resolve issues that may be interfering in their ability to learn. Some of these measures you may be aware of which are called standardized or norm referenced  tests like the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, California Tests of Basic Skills, Stanford Achievement Test, Metropolitan Achievement Test. These tests may be given to your child once or twice a year and the results are given in what we call percentiles.

If you imagine a line of 99 children with the first child having the lowest score and the 99th child having the highest score on a test, you would want to know where your child would be on that line. Percentiles go from 1-99 and should not be confused with percent which goes from 0-100. When we talk about percentiles, a percentile of 50 would place your child tight in the middle of that line of 99 children. You would then be able to say that 49 children did better and 49 children did worse that your child.  If your child scored at the 75th percentile where would he be on that line of 99 children? You would be able to say that 24 children did better but he did better than 74 of the children on that line.Therefore When you see scores in the paper which report a school's scores as a percentage -- "the Lincoln school ranked at the 49th percentile" -- or when you see your child's score reported that way -- "Jamal scored at the 63rd percentile" -- the test is usually a norm referenced standardized test.

Within the past few years there has been a great deal of criticism on schools that only use standardized norm referenced tests to measure children's abilities. Many experts are concerned because these tests do not measure initiative, creativity, imagination, conceptual thinking, curiosity, effort, irony, judgment, commitment, nuance, good will, ethical reflection, or a host of other valuable dispositions and attributes. As a result schools now use a combination of these standardized tests and other what we call non-standardized forms of assessment to find out a child's strengths and weaknesses in order to resolve issues that may be a problem.  This Parent Teacher Conference Handout will explain many of these evaluation tools used by schools.

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