2.Because we want feedback on the student’s strengths and weaknesses?
3.Because we want to know how our student compares to nationwide students?
4.Because we are not sure that our student is performing at grade level?
5. Several of the above?
Even if we test solely because of state mandate, it is helpful if the test is administered in a manner that allows us to gain the maximum amount of information from the test.
A standardized test has 6 subtests, each of which are timed. This causes many students to be unable to finish a section. This is fine -- if all we want is a score that compares our child to the nationwide norm. Yet, parents and students often put heavy weight on these scores.
Although the scores are legitimate nationwide comparisons, they do not necessarily represent a student's full competence in grade-level skills, especially if items were left blank due to insufficient time. When students are unable to finish a section prior to the time limit, then parents and students do not know:
How many test items were left blank due to insufficient time, yet are counted as incorrect test items?
Did the student know the answers to the items that were left blank?
Did the student randomly write an answer without reading the questions, because the official time was almost up,?
Therefore, did the student score poorly because of insufficient time, or rather because of concept gaps?
Advantages to finishing the test after the time is up:
Years ago, a bright home schooled teenager cried after testing, because she could not finish a couple of test sections.Must testing be this stressful?Why should a student NOT be permitted to finish?
It is possible to adhere to the timed limitation standards of the test, yet still allow students to finish each section. This allows students an opportunity to prove what they know, even if they are slower than average. Then they are not forced to believe their knowledge is poor, simply because they work slower.Students and parents should know the reason for a low score (time versus concept gaps). They deserve feedback based on nationwide comparison AND on actual knowledge of each test item.
Home school students usually prefer the emotional satisfaction of “finishing the task.”Most of them are in the habit of finishing allassignments, unlike their public and private school peers who often must turn in unfinished work.
What is the format of the test sessions when students are allowed to finish?
I want my student to have the experience of a timed-test, and not be allowed to finish the test. Can this still happen?
Timed and extended-time test sessions are conducted as follows:
Students are given the standard test instructions which tell them they have xx time to complete the section. When this time is up, students will be told to "Stop, put your pencils down." Then all students stop.
Before the test session begins, however, the students will have been provided the following explanation (exact wording may vary):
Each section has a certain number of minutes that you are allowed to work. When I read the instructions, I will tell you how many minutes you have. When that time is up, you will be told "Stop, put your pencils down." Everybody must stop. The problem is that the people who made the tests did not allow enough time for all the students to finish. I want everyone to finish and get as many right answers as they can.
So, when we stop, all students still need to stay quiet because, after a half-minute break, any students who are not finished can start working again. If you get finished before the other students, then close your book so I know you are done. Then stay quiet while the other students finish. You can use the scratch paper on the table to write or draw while you wait, or you can read if you brought something to read.
When the half-minute is up, I will simply tell the students that those who need to finish can pick up their pencils and work again while others read, draw, or write on their scratch paper.
During the half-minute that students are stopped, I quietly record which test items the students have completed to this point. Future answers do not count for the official score. I watch carefully for students who might change any answer, so I can quickly record the student's original official answer.
To avoid causing significant delay to the other students who are waiting, this extended testing time will last no more than 3-5 minutes which generally permits most students to finish. Any student who needs more time is given opportunity to work at the end of the entire test session, or the parent can schedule a time at a later date.
Flexibility is allowed for any parent or studentwho prefers a timed test.Any parents who request that their students remain within the restricted timed-test limits, will be instructed privately beforehand to not do any work during the extended testing time (the "first stop" of the section). This provides an opportunity for these students to have the experience of timed tests, should their parents prefer them to do so. Timed tests need to be requested when you register so the procedure can be fully explained to you and your student., and they can be monitored accordingly. These students will also be given a 2-minute warning that time is almost up, to assist with their time management.
How are scores computed when students get extended time?
Students who are unable to finish a section (by more than one item) will be provided with a 2nd score for that section.This score showswhat the student would have scored if s/he could have merely worked faster.It shows if s/he did or did not know the answer, and provides a needed boost if the only problem was speed.
However, this 2nd score should not be interpreted as a directly-accurate comparison ofnation-wide students, because when the norms tables were compiled from nation-wide students, there certainly would have been many students who also did not finish some of the sections.Slower students are configured into the national scores, so your student’s “timed” score is a true comparison-rank score.
One main advantage of the 2nd score is to show true weaknesses and strengths in a given category.This is impossible to determine if items are left blank on the test!If students applied themselves during the test, the 2nd score will be a good tool to determine accurate knowledge versus lack of speed.This provides parents and students with better feedback and insight:It enables them to concretely see the difference between limited-time test performance versus trueunderstanding of grade-appropriate concepts.
Beyond the immediate benefits, when a student's formal assessment shows s/he works much slower than other students, then parents are able to evaluate if it might be a good idea to work toward seeking extra-time accommodations for college entrance exams and college work. Ultimately, further testing might be required to demonstrate proof of needing these accommodations. However, when students have both a timed and an "extended-time" test score, and these document that the student's score is significantly better with extra time, this shows a history of low test scores on timed tests -- something which is often needed to earn the right for higher-level testing accommodations.
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