Understanding Test Scores - TeachersAndFamilies

Test Scores

A primer for parents...


How Can Parents Best Use Test Results?

Parents are often overwhelmed by the test reports they receive from school personnel. In order to help establish a true partnership between parents and teachers, it is essential that schools communicate information about student progress clearly, respectfully, and accurately. You should expect your school to provide test results that follow these guidelines:

. Simple, clear language free from educational and test jargon
. Explanations of the purpose(s) of the tests used
. Brief descriptions of the test procedure(s)
. Scores appropriate to the test's purpose
. Clear explanations of the meaning of scores
. Information about the limitations of the test scores
. Corroborating information from other sources
. Opportunities for parents to ask questions about scores, testing, etc.
. Information about how the test results will be used

Raw scores and percentiles, when appropriate to the tests used, are generally the most easily explained and easily understood. A visual reference such as a chart or graph may also be helpful, particularly in explaining the concept of "average." When you receive test results for your child, think about how these results compare to your expectations and to your child's past test results. If scores seem lower or higher than you expect, find out more about the test given and what these scores mean for your child. Numbers can be misleading and in some cases frightening; it is important that you have enough information to understand the limitations of any test or score and that you receive a comprehensive picture of your child's performance, not just test results.

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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.
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