Overview of Category: Testing, Assessment and Standards
Standardized tests help parents and the community judge how well their children and schools are doing with reference to a group of students that is representative of the national student population. The tests are less helpful in measuring how well students and schools are mastering district and state standards.
In the case of an elementary school, second and third grade scores that are substantially higher than in the upper grades may indicate that the school is getting more effective in kindergarten and first grades, and these improvements have yet to be seen in the scores of the older students. If you see such a pattern, ask the principal for an interpretation.
It is also very important to note that the absolute level of scores is a measure of much more than the effectiveness of the school. It also measures the contribution of the family and community to a child's learning. Schools that serve many students who are in the process of learning English or who face poverty-related challenges will be hard-pressed to show scores similar to schools in affluent communities. Any such school showing scores that meet or exceed national averages deserves hearty congratulations.