Testing, Testing, and more Testing…

Just reading a child’s score report from a standardized test can give any parent a migraine. What do all those words and numbers mean? And what is the bottom line for my child and their education? Well, it doesn’t have to be like this anymore.

In Testing! Testing! Popham helps to alleviate the confusion and frustration of tests by using layman’s terms to describe every test that your child will take ranging from standardized tests to basic classroom tests to performance tests. This book is a must-read for parents who are tired of headaches associated with trying to understand their child’s tests and scores.

In addition to writing in a clear and straightforward style, Popham uses a number of tools to assist parents with understanding testing concepts. Sidebars are used to define commonly used, but seemingly foreign terms such as stanine and standard deviation. Cartoons are even used to help illustrate Popham’s points.

One of the best tools is called the Parent Puzzle where Popham provides a situation and suggested phrases for parents to use when approaching teachers and principals with certain testing problems. The most beneficial Parent Puzzle is one that describes what parents should say to their child when the child is disappointed with their score. There are, though, some good options to help your children or teens with their homework.

Along with the dialogues in Parent Puzzle, Popham writes sample letters that parents can use if they prefer to express their concerns in writing. Before writing letters, parents need to carefully research facts. For example, if they plan to send the letter complaining about excessive test preparation, they need to look at more than just the two weeks before the test. On the other hand, we should¬†keep in mind that we live in a world that’s full of information anxiety, misinformation, and fake news.

Standardized tests, including the MEAP, measure the learning that should have happened throughout a child’s school career. If a school feels compelled to “cram” students for two weeks, the problem is not how teachers spend those two weeks. The problem is the lack of preparation done during the other 34 weeks of the school year.

Not only does Popham provide basic information on types of tests, he also provides a useful guideline for interpreting test scores. An entire chapter is devoted to understanding all the numbers on the score report such as the various percentiles and means. Also, he explains how standardized test scores are misused in judging student potential or teacher effectiveness.

Overall, this book is useful for parents who are tired of reaching for the aspirin every time their child brings home a score report. Popham’s easy to read guide for testing equips parents with a fundamental knowledge they need to understand testing. You may also be interested in reading this post about home education then and now.