Understanding Test Scores - TeachersAndFamilies

Test Scores

A primer for parents...



Since the beginning of public schooling, educators have used some type of testing to measure students' skills . Invariably, the product of testing is a score, a "yardstick" which compares an individual student with others and/or which documents a student's progress. Teachers and other educators use tests and test scores in a variety of ways:

1) to provide a "snapshot" or "profile" of the entire class in a given subject such as reading;
2) to identify students with specific strengths and weaknesses who might benefit from different instruction;
3) to sort out a group of students for additional testing or special help;
4) to evaluate the effectiveness of instruction;
5) to illustrate student progress over time;
6) to compare individual students or groups of students with some national or local standard.

What Types of Tests and Scores Are Used in Schools?
Most tests used in schools are either "norm-referenced" or "criterion-referenced." Let's take a brief look at each type.


Parenting Start

Adapted from "Understanding Test Scores: A Handout for Parents" by Andrea Canter,
in Helping Children at Home and School: Handouts from Your School Psychologist
(National Association of School Psychologists, 1998).
Copyright © 2002 by The Source for Learning, Inc. • All rights reserved.
Send comments to editor@teachersfirst.com