What Are Standardized Tests?
Teachers evaluate students by observing them in the classroom, evaluating their day-to-day classwork, grading their homework assignments, and administrating unit tests. These classroom assessments show the teacher how well a student is mastering grade level learning goals and provide information to the teacher that can be used to improve instruction.
The Davenport Community School District (DCSD) also uses tests to evaluate students. These standardized tests help DCSD to evaluate how students in a given class, school, or the district perform in relation to other students. Since the same test is given to a large number of students throughout the country, the results give DCSD a common yardstick or “standard” of measure to determine whether school programs are succeeding or a snapshot of the skills and abilities of district students.
Standardized tests are objective tests usually created by commercial test publishers. (You might remember them as the tests that require you to fill in circles on an answer sheet and the requirement to have three sharpened #2 pencils on hand.) Some of the standardized tests used in the Davenport Community Schools District include:
- Iowa Assessments
- Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)
- Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) – 9th grade only
- Formative Assessment System for Teachers (FAST), currently known as FastBridge
The results from both classroom assessment and district standardized tests are used to give a well-rounded look at the progress of individual students and groups of students within DCSD.
Why are Standardized Tests so Important?
Standardized tests help DCSD teachers and administrators make decisions regarding the curriculum. DCSD uses the results of the standardized tests in three ways:
1. to report individual progress to students and their parents;
2. to obtain information for supporting instructional decisions; and
3. to evaluate the yearly progress of grade-level groups.
Furthermore, standardized tests – and the results for schools and districts – have become more important in recent years with new requirements in both state and federal laws. The federal law, No Child Left Behind, outlines the degree of improvement that schools should make in student achievement on standardized tests each year. This federal law also stipulates the consequences for schools and districts that do not reach annual improvement goals.
For more information about your child’s standardized tests, please contact your child’s school office.