As I grew up, I took the CAT testing in grades 3 and up to measure progress in each grade level. Here is a current list of the skills tested in these assessments:
Areas TestedComplete Battery, grades 1 - 12
Approximate Work Time
|Word Analysis: matching word sounds with pictures|
|Vocabulary: reading and knowing the meaning of words|
|Reading Comprehension: understanding what is read in pictures, poems, sentences and stories; analyzing and interpreting context, details and main ideas|
|Language: spelling, capitalization, punctuation, usage, and expression|
|Study Skills : reading maps, graphs and tables; alphabetizing, using an index, the dictionary and similar reference materials ; organizing and analyzing information|
|Mathematics: concepts, problems, computation|
|Science: life, earth and space sciences|
|Social studies: history, economics, government, geography|
Approximate Total working time (not including instruction time)
In my opinion, these tests do not take to mind the view of the whole child. This test does not assess social and emotional skills, physical skills, and how a child interacts with the world around them. There are many aspects to how and what a child learns. I think it is easiest to assess a child through interactions and observations. By observing what a child is doing with another child or on their own, a teacher or parent can see what the child has learned. Since children learn best through hands-on experiences, an assessment can be done through observation of a hands-on activity. For example, if trying to teach a preschooler how to use scissors, it is easiest to watch the child try to use the scissors and see how their fine motor control is. For a social assessment, you can observe the children during a "Show and Tell" activity and see how they interact, share, and communicate with others. There are much better ways to assess children than use of standardized testing.
Assessments in England:
In England, schools use a form of standardized testing that is called the National Curriculum.
According to the Government of the UK, The National Curriculum is a framework used by all maintained schools to ensure that teaching and learning is balanced and consistent.
It sets out:
- the subjects taught
- the knowledge, skills and understanding required in each subject
- standards or attainment targets in each subject - teachers can use these to measure your child's progress and plan the next steps in their learning
- how your child's progress is assessed and reported
Within the framework of the National Curriculum, schools are free to plan and organise teaching and learning in the way that best meets the needs of their pupils.According to DirectGov, "the tests won’t give you a complete picture of how your child is doing at school – they provide a “snapshot”, showing how they performed in selected parts of a subject on a particular day. But schools can use the test results as an independent measure of how they, and their pupils, are doing compared to standards across the country."
This form of testing, again, does not support the holistic view of the child. By providing only a "snapshot" of how a child performs, you are not assessing the child in all areas of development. This is sad to me, because I know how poorly I performed on standardized tests such as the SAT in the United States. However, I had mostly As in all of my coursework in the classroom. Standardized tests do not "measure up." I would like to see standardized tests take the format of something like the Ages and Stages Questionnaire that assesses children in all domains, rather than subject areas. You can learn more about the Ages and Stages here: http://agesandstages.com/