What Should I Know About School Testing?

Mary Elizabeth

Most school testing can be categorized as one of four types. Classroom testing is the most ordinary and familiar. Teachers characteristically use some kind of assessment as a follow-up to presentation of new material. The types of school testing that take place within the classroom are limited only by the teacher’s imagination. Classroom testing may include writing the week’s spelling words, doing math problems, writing essays, answering multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions, making a presentation, creating a poster, etc.

College admissions testing assesses the ability of a student to attend college or university.
College admissions testing assesses the ability of a student to attend college or university.

By the time students reach secondary school, it is common for them to begin to have midterm and final exams in their courses. These are cumulative tests that cover a larger scope of course material and count more in grading than other classroom tests.

Teachers use classroom testing to assess a child's ability to absorb information.
Teachers use classroom testing to assess a child's ability to absorb information.

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The second type of school testing is district- and state-level testing. District testing is any testing that might be required by the local school district. State testing, however is testing that is mandated by No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the Federal education law. Testing performed under NCLB produces consolidated results for districts and states, while also providing individual results for each child.

Classroom testing may include answering multiple choice questions.
Classroom testing may include answering multiple choice questions.

The state testing that is required includes math and reading tests in grades 3–8, as well as once during grades 10–12; three science tests, once in each of the grade ranges 3–5, 6-9, and 10–12; and English language proficiency for limited English proficient (LEP) students. States may have additional requirements of their own in subjects such as writing and history.

NCLB also requires the administration of a national test, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in order for states to receive Federal education funding. In national school testing, reading and math exams are required for students in fourth and eighth grade ever two years. This test is used to compare performance across states and to check against the state’s own assessments.

The other type of school testing is college admissions testing. In general, students begin by taking the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), and then take the SAT and/or the ACT (American College Testing program) admissions test. Advanced Placement (AP) tests are linked to specific AP courses, and both help reveal a student’s level of achievement as well as possibly earning college credit.

One of the standardized tests now required at schools measures a student's reading abilities.
One of the standardized tests now required at schools measures a student's reading abilities.

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