Although test results are only one measure of student achievement, they have become increasingly important in assessing student learning. In 2008-2009 Hawaii used the Hawaii State Assessment (HSA) to test students in grades 3 through 8 and 10 in reading and math. The HSA is a standards-based test that measures how well students are meeting the state’s grade-level expectations.

Hawaii also used the Stanford 9 to test students in grades 3 through 8 and 10 in reading and math. The Stanford 9 is a national test that measures how students are performing compared to their peers nationwide.

How are the tests scored?

HSA results show the level of proficiency a student demonstrates in each of the subject areas tested. Students are rated at one of four levels: well below proficiency, approaches proficiency, meets proficiency or exceeds proficiency. The goal is for all students to meet or exceed proficiency on the test.

Stanford 9 levels are scored as below average, average or above average. The goal is for all students to score at or above average on the test.

Which results are included on GreatSchools profiles?

Only HSA results are displayed on GreatSchools profiles. For each subject, the combined percentage of students meeting and exceeding proficiency is displayed.

Why do the tests matter?

HSA scores provide an indication of whether students are making progress toward mastery of state content standards. Although test results alone are not used to make decisions regarding grade-level promotion or retention in Hawaii, low scores on standardized tests might suggest the need for additional assistance.

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 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.

What changes to the tests are planned for the future?

In 2008-2009, Hawaii will introduce writing tests in grades 4, 6, 9 and 11, and science tests in grades 5, 7 and 11. The science and writing tests will be administered each fall, while the math and reading tests will continue to be administered in the spring.

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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