Why is it when we hear the words ‘standardized test,’ everyone seems to cringe? Maybe it is because we think of a packed gym, spending hours filling out a seemingly random test. Perhaps it was because you had to have a certain score to move to the next grade. Maybe your teacher pushed too hard to improve a score. Whatever the reason, standardized testing often has a negative connotation.
As a school, one of our outcomes is to ensure students are making academic progress. It is our job to partner with parents to make sure students are prepared academically to succeed in high school and beyond. In 2017, we implemented the use of MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) for standardized testing, which was created by NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association).
This new evaluation tool benefits our teaching staff and students in three ways.
First, the testing is not a long or arduous process, nor is there any pressure on students to achieve a certain score. While they are encouraged to try their best, the testing environment is not pressure filled. The test also alters itself based on the student’s answers, so it forms to their ability level. While students do test multiple times per year, it is only in sections of roughly an hour spread over a period of a few days.
Second, results foster instructional improvement. We test and then teach so we understand where each student and each class is at in their learning. In the same light, our teaching staff has been trained on how to use the analytical analysis of test results. The goal is to recognize class trends, identify strengths, and address weakness. The teacher can take the results and use them to modify instruction or focus on areas of concern.
Third, the testing allows us to compare student results to national norms and track their growth over time. Both forms of evaluation are critical. As an institution, we want to ensure our students are performing well compared to other schools. That way we know instruction methods and curricula are effective. However, we recognize the fact that each of our students is different, each one a unique child of God. As such, we want to help each of them succeed. The goal, especially in elementary levels, is to help students grow in order to build their confidence.
Testing many never be the highlight of the day, but we are excited about how it can help both our teachers and our students here at BCCS!