Testing: A Fact of Life

in school testingIn education circles testing and assessment is always a hot topic. An anti-testing backlash spun off the federal No Child Left Behind Act’s approach to measuring school accountability through annual student achievement testing. This backlash is now whipping the Common Core State Standards assessments in Grades K-12. With all the rhetoric swirling around testing in education it seems that the country is as divided on this issue as it is on so many others. But glance beyond the wall of academia and you’ll find testing is ubiquitous and not very controversial.

In adult society testing is used to accomplish important goals related to safety, public protection, and maintenance of occupational standards. Employment and pre-employment testing are used in many industries to identify the most promising applicants for a job.

  • Driver’s License testing is required for operating a motorized vehicle in most developed countries.
  • Scores on college entrance examinations (SAT, ACT) are used as one way of selecting potentially successful students from large numbers of applicants.
  • Employment tests are sometimes used by employers as a cost effective way to identify high-potential applicants.
  • Professional licensing exams are used to demonstrate that an applicant has the basic knowledge and skills necessary to perform a job.

(As an example, the Lexercise Clinician Qualification Exam is designed to accomplish the last two goals.)

In education, there are many types of tests that may be helpful to an individual student:

  • Screening – To determine if there is enough concern to recommend a full evaluation. Examples: vision, hearing or dyslexia screenings
  • Diagnostic Testing – To make a diagnosis and /or determine if there is a disability
  • Psycho-Educational Testing – To determine qualification for publicly funded services through special education
  • End-of-Grade Testing – To determine achievement of the grade-level curricular goals as set by the particular education agency
  • Achievement Testing – To describe academic achievement in comparison to age and/or grade level peers to measure and/or to grant credit for “advanced placement”
  • Progress Monitoring and Formative Evaluations – To determine the effectiveness of instruction
  • College or Graduate School Entrance Testing -To predict the likelihood of success in higher education

It can seem that End-of-Grade testing and Common Core State Standards assessments have only a punitive purpose, designed to cull out “failing” students who are required to repeat a grade. On this topic, you may find this blog post about grade retention interesting.

But when testing is designed as a developmental guide to motivate and focus the student and the teacher on skills that need to be mastered it can serve a useful and positive purpose.  We’d love to hear ideas from kids, parents, and teachers about how assessments could be set up so they are more useful and productive.

If your child struggles with reading, writing, or spelling, the most important first step is a professional assessment. No matter where you live, your child can be tested and treated individually, face-to-face, online, by the clinical educators at Lexercise. Learn more here, or request a free consultation here.

One Response to Testing: A Fact of Life

  • Cheri Lehman commented

    I am tutoring dyslexic students. Unfortunately some are in 5th and 8th grade. These same students must take the Keystone State Assessment with out accommodations and can no longer opt out. This produces high levels of anxiety because these children can not read well enough to answer the questions correctly, especially in History and Science. How to I get reading accommodations for subjects that are not specifically testing reading skills. My kids are not going to be proficient if they read the questions incorrectly. We set them up for failure because PA does not have a dyslexia screening mandate or remediation program for dyslexics and then the administration and state are surprised when they fail. Cheri Lehman

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Sandie Barrie Blackley, MA/CCC

MA/CCC - Cofounder and CKO

Sandie is a speech-language pathologist with more than 30 years of experience in the private practice sector. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at University of North Carolina Greensboro, and founder/owner of the Language & Learning Clinic, PLLC, a private practice in Elkin, NC, and Greensboro, NC, specializing in communication disorders, including disorders of reading and written language.