A New Way to Think About Standardized Tests
In schools all across the country this spring, students in all grades will participate in annual standardized testing that is designed to measure academic progress and potential. At ICS, students in grades 4-8 will take the Terra Nova 3, a nationally-recognized, norm-referenced test with reporting that compares our students’ test scores with those of students of the same grade status in schools in other states. Each year, our students demonstrate strong performance on the Terra Nova 3 tests, with the majority of students ranked in the top 10-15 percent nationally.
Why do students take standardized tests?
While standardized test scores are only one measure of student academic achievement, careful analysis of group and individual scores can indicate student strengths and weaknesses and guide teachers in areas of instruction that should be highlighted or reinforced.
Our previous testing schedule
Historically, Immanuel has tested students in the spring and used the analysis to determine the degree of success a student or class has achieved in given academic areas. While this has yielded valuable information for our teachers, the timing of the tests at the end of the school year does not easily facilitate targeted application of testing outcomes to daily instruction in the following grade.
The new testing schedule and why it is a good idea
After careful consideration, the ICS administration has decided to move annual testing to the fall, beginning in the 2016-2017 school year. This means that our students will take the Terra Nova 3 in April 2016 and will test again in October of 2016, and in October for subsequent years. The reporting from the fall testing will enable our teachers to customize instruction for individual students and groups of students in their current classes in a way that was not possible with spring testing. For example, if fall math scores for a particular individual or class reveal the low scores in decimal computation, the classroom teacher will emphasize and reinforce that skill. If a group within a class requires greater proficiency with vocabulary, their teacher can design instruction and assignments that will enhance vocabulary mastery. Conversely, students whose scores rank in the top percentiles and whose scores are validated through classroom work, can be given accelerated instruction or be referred for inclusion in our enrichment program.
We believe that analysis of testing data within the school year will reap immediate benefits for our students, and further the pursuit of excellence in education that has always been the hallmark of an Immanuel Christian School education.