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Although many students, teachers and parents don’t like the process, testing is an essential part of every educational program. Assessments provide much-needed data. They allow educators to track their students’ progress and let concerned parties know what skills and content a student might be struggling with. In addition, they even provide data that helps make future academic decisions easier. They also give institutions like colleges and universities a way to measure potential candidates for future admission.

Testing is important. A whole field of research and practice accommodates it. This field is full of terms that, while important, are difficult for most people to understand. It’s impossible to go through each and every one of them. But here are 15 testing terms that everyone should definitely know, in no particular order.

Formative Assessment

When it comes to testing, there are a lot of different types of assessments out there, and each one does something different. In the classroom, the two most commonly used types of assessments are formative and summative. 

Formative assessments are tests given during the course of a lesson or unit and are designed to measure a student’s progress while his or her knowledge is still forming (hence the word “formative”). These might include CFU (Checking for Understanding) moments, quizzes, benchmark tests, diagnostics and other assessments that are meant to measure progress up to a certain point. The teacher uses this information to plan future content. 

When a teacher can determine what students know, it’s very helpful. When a teacher can determine what students don’t know, he or she can then help those students better learn and master that content. Formative assessments can be graded, but they don’t have to be, since that is not their main purpose.

Summative Assessment

In contrast to formative testing, a summative assessment takes place at the end of a unit or lesson. Summative assessments determine or “sum up” what a student does or does not know (hence the word “summative”). 

When a student gets a summative assessment, it’s expected that they previously mastered all the content presented up to that point. Usually, these sorts of tests are graded and often weigh pretty heavily. This is because summative assessments are used as the main tool to determine whether or not a student has actually learned what was expected of them. These tests can include final exams and unit tests. 

Diagnostic Testing

A diagnostic test is a specific form of formative assessment, usually given at the very beginning of a class, term or unit of study. This kind of test finds out what a student knows and what a student doesn’t know. 

Many students get upset when they get items wrong on a diagnostic exam, but that is actually the point – it’s the wrong answers that allow a teacher to design lessons that will meet the needs of the students in the class. For this reason, diagnostic tests should never be counted as a grade.

Aptitude Testing

An aptitude test measures a student’s potential. We often see these sorts of tests, including the SAT and the ACT, being used as part of an entrance package to colleges and universities. 

The idea is that these tests do not assess what someone knows as much as what they have the potential to learn and do. Colleges then use that information when deciding what sort of person to admit into their institution.

Performance Assessment

A performance assessment measures a student’s skill in a particular area. These tests are less about knowledge and more about ability. Of course, a performance assessment can only be used if there is some sort of performance aspect to assess. So, you will often see these type of assessments in fields such as art, dance or music.

Many academic activities require skills rather than content. For example, one could argue that being able to successfully construct an argument is an academic piece that requires skill, not just knowledge.

Portfolio

A portfolio is a type of assessment that asks students to collect samples of their work. An artist, for example, might put together a collection of his or her best drawings, or a writer might compile a file of their best short stories or poems. A teacher evaluates this collection of work. 

Overall judgement must take into consideration multiple works that showcase a variety of skills and ideas.

Validity Testing

With all of the various tests available, it’s important to know whether or not a test is any good. Does the test actually do what it is supposed to do? With that being said, one major quality that test-makers and users look for in an assessment is validity.

Validity pertains to what the test actually measures. Does the vocabulary test actually show if the student knows those words? Does the math test actually show if a student knows the math concepts being tested? This might seem easy to figure out, but it isn’t always so. Sometimes, a test is full of “hidden” issues that make it unreliable.

Rubrics

Many assessments use a rubric to help the teacher determine a grade. A rubric is nothing more than a matrix that determines what should be present in an answer for the student to earn a specific score. These are often great ways to take a seemingly subjective process (like writing, for example) and make it graded on more objective standards. 

In addition, a rubric is great for breaking down large pieces into smaller, more gradable bits. For example, rather than just grade an essay as a whole, a teacher can look at grammar, vocabulary, organization, etc. The teacher then gives each element its own individual score based on its criteria.

Scaffolded Assessment

A scaffolded assessment is a sequential type of test that starts off easy and then progressively gets more difficult as the test continues. Each item gets more and more difficult and relies more on student knowledge and skill. 

These assessments measure how far a student progresses in a particular area. Or summatively, to see whether or not a student has mastered something to the level required by the course standards.

Authentic Assessment

The term “authentic assessment” refers to any sort of test that seeks to recreate real-world situations. Think of language learning, for example. Instead of practicing awkward conversations about food in a classroom, an authentic assessment might involve setting up a fake restaurant table and simulating a customer and waiter having a conversation about the menu. This technique makes the skill easier for the student to apply and learn outside of the classroom. 

Benchmark Testing

A benchmark is a specific type of formative assessment. These are most commonly used when a unit of study has a predetermined set of standards that are supposed to be met by the end of the unit. 

The benchmark is used along the way to see how close students are to meeting those standards. It also determines what learning gaps need to be addressed. The teacher uses this knowledge to help plan future content.

Percentile

Many standardized tests, report student ability in the form of a percentile. This is a number between 1 and 100 (like a percent) that shows how the student compares to other similar students across the area. A student in the 75th percentile on a skill can be said to have performed better than 75% of all the students who took that same assessment.

Standards-Based Assessment

A standards-based assessment is a test that specifically measures a student’s progress or understanding of certain standards. The standards might be teacher-chosen, school-wide or created by some other governing entity. In today’s educational system, it’s usually a state-wide government choice. 

The assessment then measures a student’s knowledge of those particular standards. Other content or skills don’t undergo assessment.

Standard Deviation

The statistics of a test reveal the standard deviation. Standard deviation measures how varied the scores on a particular assessment might be. A test with a wide distribution of scores, from very low to very high, has a high deviation. A test where most students all score similarly to one another has a low standard deviation.

Accommodations

A student’s individualized needs will determine if they need accommodations. Most often, students with a disability receive allowances. The accommodation is an exception to the normal testing rules. It gives the student a more even playing field and compensates for the disadvantages that stem from that disability. 

Common accommodations include extra time on tests, special seating, a change in a testing environment (a small group setting, for example) or the use of extra tools such as a calculator. It is only after a medical professional documents a disability that students receive accommodations.

Contact Make the Grade

Of course, experts use many other terms when it comes to testing and assessment. If you would like to know more about testing and how Make the Grade can help you, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!

Now more than ever, with education rapidly changing, schools (virtual or otherwise), can become stressors for your children and yourself. Don’t worry. Here are a few action tips straight from an experienced, results-driven tutor that you can follow to help boost your children’s morale and inspire them to get straight A’s without the stress.

Aim for SUCCCESS

In our recent podcast, we presented the 3 C’s of SUCCCESS, or the idea that students need to follow the three C’s to succeed. 

  • Consistency, commitment, and community are all hallmarks of successful people, no matter what profession or stage of life they are in. Create an environment where your child can study consistently. Start by carving out a designated time each day to complete schoolwork. You can also provide incentives for commitment to academic improvement. Most importantly, foster a community that supports and encourages your children to be the best they can be. 

Make Learning Individualized

Most classrooms cater to the needs of the general homogenous population, which can be great for many students. But, it leaves others behind. Individualized attention is the key to unlocking your child’s academic potential. 

Our individualized tutoring program tackles this issue in three ways:

  • One-on-one tutoring sessions. This program allows us, instructors, to understand and adapt to your child’s learning style. This is a critical component for success. 
  • Individualized learning also allows for ample comprehension time. It gives your child and his or her brain the opportunity to absorb information at an individualized pace.
  • Personalized learning sessions can boost a student’s confidence. 

Successful learners are ready to participate in class discussions and tackle unfamiliar material, which takes self-confidence. As a parent, you can support your child one-on-one with homework help or test prep. But as a busy person with a lot on your to-do list, it may not be feasible for you. We can take some of that pressure off of you with our individualized tutoring.

Contact mAke the grAde

Success takes a lot of hard work, but just by reading this blog, you are already taking a step in the right direction to support your child academically and reduce stress for both of you. We are here to support you and your child in all areas, from tutoring in a specific subject to SAT/ACT preparation. If you are ready to make your child SUCCCESSful or try individualized learning, contact us today!

If your child has been struggling at school, or with home learning, or both!! — you may want to look into individualized, custom tutoring to help them with their academics.

Tutoring has been proven to give children the individualized attention that they are unable to receive in a large classroom to help them to maximize their academic success. While a classroom setting can make a student feel left out or lost, tutoring may offer a number of benefits. Here are a few ways that customized tutoring can benefit your child.

Provide Ample Information Processing Time

In a classroom setting, each student may have a different style or speed of learning. They do not all process the information the same way or at the same rate. Classroom setting can be a problem for the children that need more time to process the information they are given.

In order to advance in any subject, a student needs to be able to build a strong foundation of the subject. If they are unable to do so, they may fall behind.

There are studies that indicate information processing time is essential to learning. Students need to be given enough time to process and assimilate subject information. When they are given that time, they are able to yield more significant results in class. While a large classroom setting may not be able to offer that, a tutor can.

Boost Self-Confidence

While self-confidence is not an ”’academic skill,” students’ self-esteem goes a long way when helping to obtain the long term positive benefits and results that you are looking for.

A student that is self-confident is more likely to raise their hand in class to ask or answer questions. They are less afraid of making a mistake in class and are more willing to participate. Self-confidence is essential for a child to be able to take full advantage of learning in class.

With customized tutoring, children can boost their confidence levels. They get the additional help they need to understand subjects they are having trouble with. In turn, a boost in self-confidence can also result in an increase in motivation to learn.

 

Get One-on-one Attention

In a large classroom setting, teachers are not always able to give each student the amount of attention they need. However, having a tutor means your child can get customized lessons and activities in a one-on-one setting.

Tutoring is a much more personal way of instruction which can greatly enhance a student’s ability to learn. Tutors are able to really get to know and understand a child’s individual learning style. They are also able to give them the attention they need and adapt their teaching methods to meet the child’s needs.

Conclusion

A child can get the right individualized attention, information processing time, and a boost in confidence from customized tutoring. These benefits can also result in a number of other positive results such as improving study habits and academic performance. To find out more about customized tutoring, contact Make the Grade today.

Attn new HS Juniors.  It’s that time of year… Test Prep Season.

Good news …  there is help 🙂

A Free Practice SAT (by the College Board) is available on the College Board site. mAke the grAde recommends that all students planning to take an upcoming SAT should take advantage of this ‘offer’.

PRACTICE COLLEGE BOARD SAT EXAM

There are a number of ways to prep for the SAT (and ACT) exams.  One is to simply practice that test as much as possible.  Practice makes perfect.

Practice also helps to demonstrate both areas of need (which you may choose to ameliorate with a tutor) and areas of strength (which is may be just fine with).  Areas of need may include specifics in the 3 main sections of the SAT: Reading, Math and Writing, but may also expose needs in your timing and pacing for the questions and for the sections (remember the SAT (and ACT) is a timed exam!)

To access this practice SAT click this link:

PRACTICE COLLEGE BOARD SAT EXAM

The SAT is administrated 8 times during the academic year: October, November, December, January, March, May and June.  This year is a watershed year however as the “old” SAT will be administered up to and including January 2016 and then a “new” SAT will be administered starting in March 2016.  mAke the grAde recommends taking the “old” SAT while is is still in play since it is a known commodity and there are still several unknowns concerning the ‘new’ SAT.

What do you think? What is your test calendar plan?

Questions?  contact make the grade at EMAIL MAKETHEGRADE

PS – the deadline to register for the October 3 SAT exam is September 3.

PRACTICE COLLEGE BOARD SAT EXAM

What do you think?  If you took the SAT exam, how would you feel about this? Do you think it would help you? hurt you? no effect?
Leave a comment and let me know what you think…


Students who took the SAT exam last weekend may have gotten extra time due to a printing error on the tests, administrators of the college entrance exam said.

The College Board, the non-profit group that oversees the SAT, said the exams given in the U.S. incorrectly said students would get “25 minutes” to complete sections 8 or 9. But the test center supervisor’s manual and script correctly said student should only get 20 minutes.

New Jersey-based ETS, which creates the SAT, informed the College Board of the printing error at noon on Saturday, the day the test was administered.

It is unclear how many students may have gotten an extra five minutes on the section or what that means for their scores.

“The College Board understands the critical nature of this issue, and we are actively working with our partner ETS to determine next steps to ensure the fairness of the test and the validity of the scores we deliver,” the College Board said in a statement. “We regret the confusion and concern this issue is causing for students and their families, and we will provide them and others with updated information as soon as possible.”

College Board officials said they will post updates on the group’s website.

ETS, based in Princeton, oversees test administration and security for the SAT.

FairTest, a non-profit group critical of the SAT, said the printing error creates a serious problem for the College Board and ETS.

“They have admitted that administration of a portion of last Saturday’s exam was not ‘standardized’ since some students had 20 minutes to complete the items, while others had 25 due to the test-makers’ error. How do they assure all reported scores are consistent, accurate and fair? This foul-up will further accelerate the movement for college and university admissions offices to drop SAT requirement,” said Bob Schaeffer, public education director for FairTest, which is short for the National Center for Fair & Open Testing.

Here is the link to the original article:

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2015/06/sat_error_college_board_investigating_problem_with.html


This article was originally published in nj.com. To reach the author: Kelly Heyboer may be reached at kheyboer@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KellyHeyboer. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

Maximum Education – The Ultimate Guide to Optimal Academics

Why did I write a book?

The core mission is to provide students and their families with simple and powerful tools to become more successful. This success includes academic but extends to many other areas of life as well.

As a preview, here is the working copy for the back cover of the book.

Students today are overloaded with school work load, extracurricular commitments, sports, volunteer work and more. They struggle to reach their academic potential and often become frustrated with the process.

Here is the solution…

Maximum Education provides a blueprint for success for students by providing functional tools for time management and prioritization, class note taking, outlines to organize information, test preparation skills and specialized tips for test preparation, standardized tests, college admissions test (ACT, SAT) and term papers.

This workbook also offers access to the mAke the grAde community of learners – an interactive group coordinated by Dr Greene – which allows students to share ideas, ask questions, and collaborate.

A lifelong educator, Dr Greene holds a state teaching certification and has taught at the middle school, high school (public and independent) and university level. In 1995 he establish mAke the grAde, a tutoring and academic consulting company based in the Philadelphia PA area, which provides private tutoring and support for students and their families, specializing in all areas of Math, the Sciences and Test Preparation for the college admissions process.

BLUE with TEXT

It’s late April and this is the busiest time of the year for students.  It’s a confluence of everything at once.

SAT/ACT is you are taking the college admissions tests…

AP exams in May

and the 4th quarter has started and of course… finals are not that far off.

So how do you manage?

The key is a combination of planning, time management, foresight and consistency.

I recently completed writing and putting the finishing touches on Maximum Education: The Ultimate Guide to Optimal Academics.  This is a workbook and guide to, as the title so boldly state, maximizing your education and your academics.

BLUE with TEXTGREEN with text

Without giving away every secret here, here is a basic guideline of what you’ll learn in the book:

Time Management
Homework Tracking
Prioritizing Techniques
Note taking
Outlining
Test Preparation Tips
Organizing and Writing Term Papers
Standard Test Prep
College Admissions Test Prep (ACT/SAT)
and…
as the cliche says…
so much more…

It’s late April and this is the busiest time of the year for students.  It’s a confluence of everything at once.
SAT/ACT is you are taking the college admissions tests…
AP exams in May
and the 4th quarter has started and of course… finals are not that far off.
So how do you manage?
The key is a combination of planning, time management, foresight and consistency.
I recently completed writing and putting the finishing touches on Maximum Education: The Ultimate Guide to Optimal Academics.  This is a workbook and guide to, as the title so boldly state, maximizing your education and your academics.
BLUE with TEXTGREEN with text
Without giving away every secret here, here is a basic guideline of what you’ll learn in the book:
Time Management
Homework Tracking
Prioritizing Techniques
Note taking
Outlining
Test Preparation Tips
Organizing and Writing Term Papers
Standard Test Prep
College Admissions Test Prep (ACT/SAT)
and…
as the cliche says…
so much more…

Need a boost prepping for the PSAT/SAT/ACT exams?

Join Dr Steven Greene for a weekly online Q/A.  This session is free and open to all. Space is limited.  Email sgreene@makethegrade.net for details.

Sessions meet Wednesday evenings 9-10pm Eastern time.