Testing in North Dakota: An Overview
A GreatSchools guide to standardized tests
By GreatSchools Staff
Although test results are only one measure of student achievement, they have become increasingly important in assessing student learning. In 2007-2008 North Dakota used the North Dakota State Assessment (NDSA) to test students in grades 3 through 8 and 11 in reading and math, and in grades 4, 8 and 11 in science. The NDSA is a standards-based test, which means it measures how well students are mastering the specific skills defined for each grade by the state of North Dakota.
The information provided on GreatSchools profiles is for the 2007-2008 year.
How are the tests scored?
NDSA results show the level of proficiency a student demonstrates in each of the subject areas tested. Students are rated at one of four performance levels: novice, partially proficient, proficient or advanced. The goal is for all students to score at or above the proficient level.
Which results are included on GreatSchools profiles?
The results for reading and math for all grades combined are displayed on GreatSchools profiles. For each subject, the combined percentage of students scoring at or above the proficient level is displayed. Results represent students enrolled in the school for the entire academic year.
GreatSchools also displays subgroup results to show how different groups of students are scoring in comparison to the overall student population in a given grade and subject. These subgroups are identified by the North Dakota Department of Education; if there are fewer than 10 students in a particular group, the state doesn't report data for that group.
Why do the tests matter?
North Dakota test results provide an indication of whether students are making progress toward mastery of state content standards. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools with poor test results are required to enact strategies to raise the achievement level of their students.
It is important to be aware of both your child's score on the assessments and the overall score for his school. If your child scores below the standards, contact his teacher to discuss getting additional assistance, and to find out how you can support your child's learning at home.
If the school's overall scores are low, ask what steps the school is taking to raise achievement levels for all students, and what you as a parent can do to help. If your child is in a failing school, ask what your options are for obtaining supplemental services or for transferring to a higher-performing school.
A few parting words
Although test results can be an indicator of what's happening in the classroom, they don't tell you everything about the quality of a particular school. Always look at more than one measure when judging school performance and visit in person before making any final assessment.
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