“What’s the point of testing?” Each year without fail, teachers and school administrators hear this question whispered in the halls when spring testing comes around. We hear all the arguments against tests – it takes away from instruction, it puts undue pressure on the students, and let’s get back to teaching. While testing can sometimes be thought of as a necessary evil, it is not without value. Effective schools use this opportunity to measure themselves. The achievement data from state tests help to measure our overall effectiveness as a school, identify underserved student groups, and show your student their growth every year. When used wisely, the CAASPP is an effective data point that can guide the direction of your school.
Measuring the Overall Effectiveness as a School
It’s no secret that schools publicly report their results to the state. Schools needing improvement are identified with a large emphasis on the California Assessment of Student Progress and Performance (CAASPP) test. High stakes, indeed. However, every school regardless of their status use the CAASPP tests to measure their effectiveness as a school. Overall, are our students meeting grade level standards? Is our reading instruction effective? Do our students understand mathematical concepts? All of this is revealed through CAASPP.
Identifying Underserved Student Groups
Even among top-performing schools, CAASPP can help identify groups of students that are underperforming. Whether it be a certain grade level, gender, socioeconomic class, language acquisition, CAASPP results can highlight where inequities may exist. Effective schools use this as a map to ensure appropriate supports, resources, and training are implemented to support these students.
Showing Individual Student Achievement
It may be a report that you barely glance at, and I agree a single test cannot measure your student’s ability. However, the CAASPP does offer a glimpse of how your student was doing in that brief window of time including how your student is doing in specific areas under reading and math. Perhaps your student is an excellent reader, but the scores show she needs assistance in writing. Maybe your student has always struggled with math, but he’s showing growth in mathematical concepts. The CAASPP score report is powerful information that also suggests books that are appropriate for your student’s reading level and math resources you can use free at home with your student. The CAASPP Start Smarter website shares valuable resources for parents to understand and utilize the test to help your student grow
While testing can feel like a chore, it is not without value if your student takes advantage of his/her opportunity to show off their abilities. The CAASPP is a valuable measuring stick for our school and our students. If you’re interested in learning more, please go to our State Testing webpage.