It is important that parents view their child's standardized test scores for what they are: one dimension of their child's accumulated knowledge measured on one day of their life.
It is vital to see these scores as only one aspect of a child's academic functioning. Day-to-day assignments, unit tests, scores on projects and a host of other measures from school construct a whole picture of a student's abilities.
The purpose of standardized testing in schools is two-fold:
1. Assessment of past learning
2. Assessment of future learning
The scores your child receives can be used for different purposes including:
1. How much has my child learned about this subject?
2. What progress has he made from the last time he was tested in this area?
3. What are my child's relative strengths and/or weaknesses?
4. Are there any surprises in the scores that don't fit with my impression of her school functioning (from report cards and conferences)?
The scores should be used as a part of a discussion with the student's teacher(s) as to areas that need strengthening, reinforcement or remediation. The teacher can help shed light on whether the scores are an accurate reflection of the student's normal performance in school.
Parents must keep in mind that the scores reflect the day that the child took the test. Children can be affected by the sleep they had the night before, hunger, conflict with a friend or general anxiety about taking a test.
Remember not to overly emphasize these tests with your child. Down-playing the tests is the best course of action. The message from parents to children should always be, "do your best."■
Joy E. Carter is a tutor for the North Shore Center and a retired educator.