Parent Guide to Achievement Testing
committed to accountability for the achievement of all
students. This guide answers questions about tests that
students take in school to measure achievement. These are not
tests to determine eligibility for special services, but tests
that all students take.
is achievement testing?
involves collecting information about student knowledge,
skills, or abilities. Teachers collect information about
students to make decisions about how and what to teach.
Watching a child solve a problem or play with others are
informal assessments. Giving an achievement test is a formal
are typical kinds of tests?
various types of tests. Achievement tests measure what a child
has learned. Performance tests may require students to carry
out a task, for example a science experiment, or class
project. Aptitude tests examine potential for future academic
are tests given?
several reasons for testing your child. One reason is to show
how much a student has learned. Another purpose is to reveal
how successfully a school has educated students.
the teacher about student progress. Results help teachers
improve instruction by customizing it to fit the child’s
needs. School results allow the public to compare schools or
my son or daughter been tested enough already?
information was collected to see whether your child was
eligible for special education services. To continue meeting
your child’s needs, on-going testing is needed.
can more testing help my son or daughter?
tests to plan instruction for your child. Without test
results, teachers have less information to make decisions.
testing take time away from instruction?
It takes time
to assess student learning and to make decisions. Tests help
teachers judge whether their standards are high enough and
whether students are learning what they need to succeed.
show weakness, teachers can provide the needed instruction.
Teachers can build on strengths identified by tests. Time
spent on testing can improve instruction. Time spent on
assessment is time well spent.
is statewide testing?
The state can
require testing. For example, California’s Standardized
Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program requires that all
students in grades 2 – 11 take the Stanford Achievement
Test, Ninth Edition each year in the Spring. This test has
various uses, including:
comparing a child’s or school’s score to
some group (for example, a nationally representative group)
showing how well the child or school has
mastered the skills expected of all students
showing how well the child or school has
should my child take part in the statewide test?
If your child
does not take the test, then teachers will not receive his or
her scores, and the results will not count for the school.
Without test results, teachers are less able to make good
decisions about the instruction that your child needs.
won’t my child be at a disadvantage?
disabilities can be appropriately included in statewide tests.
Many students with disabilities can take tests under the same
conditions as their non-disabled classmates. Some students
with disabilities should take tests with accommodations. A
small number of students with significant disabilities will
not be able to take the same tests as other students, even
with accommodations. An alternate test is needed to include
these students in the school accountability system.
used in the classroom should be used during testing, if
appropriate. The goal is to level the playing field.
Accommodations should help students with disabilities show
what they can do. Students with disabilities can take the STAR
test with appropriate accommodations, as described in his or
her Individualized Education Program (IEP).
of accommodations are sometimes provided to students with
special needs. These accommodations are listed below:
Braille Test. A visually impaired student may
complete a Braille version of the test.
Flexible Scheduling. The test can be
administered with changes in the standard schedule for
testing. These changes include extending the testing time or
extending the testing over more sessions.
Flexible Setting. Tests can be administered in
small groups, in a separate location, or using special
Large Print Test. The test can be printed in a
larger print size than standard.
Out of Level Testing. The test may at a
different level than the student’s grade.
Revised Test Format. The test booklet can be
changed by increasing the space between questions or reducing
the number of questions on a page.
Revised Test Directions. The directions for
administering the test can be changed by emphasizing key words
or simplifying the language.
Aids and/or Aides. The student can have help or
special equipment to enhance vision or hearing, masks to cover
a portion of the test, markers to maintain a place, readers to
repeat questions, reading or signing passages, cues to
maintain on-task behavior, equipment to record responses,
pointers, or communication boards.
all accommodations that are used during instruction allowed
used in testing should not give students with special needs an
unfair advantage. For example, it may not be appropriate to
read a reading test to a student. Decisions about
accommodations depend on the type of test.
accommodation should be considered if it:
is based on the child’s need
is already provided in the child’s instruction
does not give an unfair advantage, and
does not change the nature of what is being
decides whether accommodations are used and if so, which one(s)?
familiar with the test and with the student should make
decisions about accommodations. The Individualized Education
Program (IEP) team made up of parents, the classroom teacher,
program or school administrator and specialists is in the best
position to make these decisions.
do I learn more about test accommodations?
information, contact your child’s teacher, counselor, or
principal or California's guidelines for participation of
students with disabilities in the Standardized Testing and
Reporting (STAR) Program