For parents, the end of the school year comes with assessment results that we often don’t understand. This is the time when schools accumulate and provide a wealth of assessment information and results. These assessments can sometimes be overwhelming in understanding it’s purpose and results.
Below I share an overview of the assessments, test results, and grading practices often used in schools. This information should help you understand and interpret documentation about assessment results for your child.
Most parents wait on the report to find out if their child moves on to the next grade level. However, note that you do not have to wait until you get a report card to know how the school year ended. Online grade access or a quick note to the teacher can also provide this information.
In-class assessments can look a bit different for elementary and secondary. In elementary, schools may conduct class assessments after the end of a unit. The results of in-class assessments provide teachers with data to make future instructional decisions.
For secondary schools, in-class assessments happen regularly to monitor immediate learning. In-class assessments may include quizzes, pop-quizzes, or final tests. The results of in-class assessments are part of a student’s marking period grades.
Most if not all schools administer benchmark testing. Benchmark testing provides teachers a way to measure growth and grade-level performance throughout the school year. Unlike end of year assessments, teachers administer the tests three times a year to determine growth levels.
Schools administer Benchmark testing in English language arts and math. Most importantly, the results of these tests are almost always immediately available. Teachers use results to make predictions and future academic decisions for all students.
Parents can ask to discuss benchmark testing results to compare progress from beginning to end of the school year. This may also help you understand where your child stands (below, on, or above grade level). Considering where he/she should be for language arts and math. In other words, benchmark tests provide the needs and strengths of your child’s academic abilities.
State tests are similar to benchmark tests except they are assessments done at the end of the school year. Examples of State tests are Smarter Balanced language arts and math assessments. Most state testing begins in third grade. The main purpose of State assessments is to obtain academic performance information and compare academic achievement results within state and schools.
State assessments are aligned to national standards, such as the Common Core Standards (CCS). The CCS are a set of high-quality academic standards that outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade.
Another state tests is the WIDA ACCESS for ELLs langauge development test. This language test measures an English language learner’s language proficiency progress from year to year.
The results of these assessments are not always available right away. Some states mail out the results during the summer. However, teachers may have results before school ends. Feel free to inquire about assessments and results to get an idea about your child’s performance.
Response to Intervention
RtI or Response to Intervention provides students ongoing support in small group instruction. For example, when a student struggles in reading and/or math they receive small group instruction in the area of need. These interventions happen with ongoing assessments called progress monitoring.
Progress monitoring is another type of end of year assessments that schools use to monitor academic development. These assessments and results inform future instruction and interventions. These also inform a student’s academic level performance and can be part of the conversation with classroom teachers.
Summer learning loss
Summer months are known to cause what experts refer to as summer learning loss. Students who do not participate in summer learning will experience a higher percentage of summer learning loss. Knowing your child’s academic strengths and weaknesses will give you an idea of what to focus on during the summer months.
Teachers can pinpoint academic need areas for any student. The above results can help you as parents understand where your child stands at the end of the school year.