Assessment Tests Provide Feedback for Elementary Teachers & Parents

Article excerpt

In Dr. Sandra Edwin's experience, conventional standardized tests are filled with limitations. The principal of Parkview Elementary in Chula Vista, Calif., feels that these tests do not provide the kind of feedback that leads to better student performance. They tend to be graded weeks or months after being administered and simply compare the scores of groups of students--providing few specifics on individual performance.

It was this dissatisfaction with "norm-referenced" tests that led her to volunteer Parkview as a beta-test site for Tudor Publishing Company's computer-adaptive assessment software, Grade Level Evaluation (GLE).

Reasons for the partnership between Parkview and San Diego, Calif.-based Tudor Publishing were many. "Our interest was initially sparked because we could use our school's existing hardware to administer a computerized criterionbased reference test," Edwin recalls.

Also, it was soon clear that very little training was required to get started with GLE. As Edwin explains, "You don't have to be computer literate to run the test; you just shove the disk in and the kids take it from there."

Variety of Reports

Edwin had anticipated GLE's ability to score tests instantly, but was surprised by the evaluation's comprehensiveness; tests incorporate basic computational and critical-thinking skills.

Numerous reports help instructors and administrators track student performance. Specific skills that have or have not been mastered by each student are identified in Effective Skills and Actual Skills Mastery Reports.

At the individual level, the Parent Report informs parents of their child's skill masteries and deficiencies and also prepares an easy-tofollow tutorial for the parents to use at home. Remarks Edwin, "The positive response from the parents has been fantastic. My staff saves time preparing for parent conferences as well."

The fact that the Parent Report is available in Spanish as well as English was particularly beneficial to Parkview, whose student population is 46% Hispanic.

The Grouping of Students by Skills Not Mastered Report allows children who need to re-learn a particular skill to be quickly identified for remedial teaching. Just as important, students who have mastered a given skill can move on. "And if the test result is less than acceptable for most of the kids," Edwin notes, "this sends a message to the teacher that he or she needs to re-teach that topic."

The feedback's immediacy also impressed her. According to the principal, "Because GLE grades exams on the spot, the teachers were able to regroup kids for re-learning this year, rather than having to waste months of classroom time teaching the wrong-level skills. …