From time to time we get a variety of questions surrounding standardized testing and what benefit it provides to students, why GRACE Christian chooses to test in the fall, and how teachers help their students succeed in taking standardized tests. We asked Academic Dean Julia Taylor for more information on standardized testing at GRACE and she gave the following responses:
Question: What standardized testing model does GRACE Christian use?
Mrs. Taylor: GRACE administers the CTP5 (Comprehensive Testing Program 5) by Educational Records Bureau (ERB) for students grades 2 through grade 9. The test is both a reasoning and an achievement test. The CTP5 is a battery or series of multiple-choice tests administered to students over the course of several days. The test measures performance in reading, math, and writing skills. It also measures predicted performance in the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections. The testing differs from report cards or evaluations because it is a glimpse of a student’s performance on a particular day.
GRACE also administers the PSAT, SAT, and ACT to high school students. Students enrolled in AP exams are also required to take the AP exam for their respective courses.
Question: What’s the purpose of standardized testing?
Mrs. Taylor: The reasoning tests measure the ability to think using words and numbers. The achievement tests, such as vocabulary, reading comprehension, and mathematics, measure mastery of skills and knowledge acquired directly from instruction in the classroom. Having both reasoning and achievement tests in the same battery enables us to compare the results as a guide in working with individual students. Taken together, these scores help determine if a student is working to their potential.
Question: Why does GRACE Christian utilize standardized testing?
Mrs. Taylor: Both reasoning and achievement tests in the same battery enable the school to compare the results as a guide in working with individual students. Taken together, these scores help determine if a student is working up to potential. Students who take the CTP5 are ranked among the top 20% of students in the country. Comparing test results with similarly high-performing schools also allows us to better assess our curriculum when evaluating student performance.
Question: What are the benefits of standardized testing?
Mrs. Taylor: GRACE administers the CTP5 to students in the fall as a measure of determining acquired content knowledge from the previous school year. Teachers are then able to utilize the results to determine what students have learned, and any areas where content needs to be reinforced or areas where students can be challenged further.
Question: What are some drawbacks of standardized testing & how is GRACE working through those?
Mrs. Taylor: It is important to remember that standardized tests are a snapshot in time. They provide good information for schools to use but shouldn’t be relied on solely for making instructional or curricular decisions. Teachers and administrators work diligently to review the data and compare it to results from previous years to look for trends and areas of needed focus. While standardized tests serve a purpose in education, they can’t be relied on solely to give a complete picture of a student.
Question: How do teachers help prepare students for standardized tests?
Mrs. Taylor: At school, we help students prepare for standardized tests with practice questions that familiarize them with the format and design of the test. It is helpful for children to understand the types of questions and the level of critical thinking and problem-solving that will need to be applied. Students also learn strategies for responding to questions and how to pace themselves so they can complete test sections without running out of time.
Question: Will standardized testing help prepare my child for college?
Mrs. Taylor: While meeting specific performance standards on standardized testing is needed for admittance to many colleges and universities, test performance is not in itself indicative of a student’s ability to be prepared for and succeed in college. Many soft skills are just as if not more important to the long-term success of students. Skills such as grit, perseverance, and stick-to-it-iveness are traits that are just as if not more important than testing data.
Question: Why does GRACE choose to do standardized testing in the fall semester?
Mrs. Taylor: With a fall assessment window, students are tested one grade level below their current grade and assessed for content mastery in the previous grade. A fall assessment window provides teachers with the opportunity to use the standardized testing data purposefully and intentionally throughout the school year to best meet the needs of individuals and groups of students. The results help to determine where additional instruction or reinforcement is needed, and similarly how to challenge students in areas where they show mastery of content.
For more information on what types of content might be on the standardized tests students will take at GRACE Christian, please see our curriculums for our lower campus and upper campus. If you have additional questions about standardized testing, please contact Julia Taylor here.