Thursday, September 16, 2010

Standardized Testing

Last year, in third grade, Caitlyn took the first of many standardized tests in her academic career. She took the ISATs. To say that she was nervous about them is an understatement. The teachers really impressed upon the students how important these tests were. They also "mentioned" that any child who did not meet the standards on the test could be held back, to repeat third grade, as it is a "benchmark" year. I insisted that Caitlyn was ready and that she would do just fine on said test. However, she was still pretty nervous.

The tests are taken in the spring, and the results are sent home until the fall of the following school year. Which is now. We received Caitlyn's test scores yesterday.

Before I go on to say how she did on them, let me state for the record that I am not a big fan of these tests. They just don't give an accurate impression of who the child is as a whole, in my lay person's opinion. That's not to say that I don't think they are valid. I think they give a vague snapshot of how a child is performing at that very point in time, however, I don't feel that they give a good impression of what a child is truly capable of. I also think that many parents are mislead when it comes to reading the results of these tests. If a child scores extremely well in reading, let's say they score at the 8th grade level of reading, that does not mean that the child could succeed in an eighth grade classroom. It simply means that they are able to read and understand material (to an extent) that an eighth grade student who is performing at the lowest acceptable level of eighth grade could also read and understand.

Additionally, while I don't believe in using the test scores as a true indication of a student, I know as a parent it is the first thing I look at when exploring different schools and their level of success, so to speak. For example, prior to moving in to our current house, one of the first things I did was look at the school's ISAT scores in comparison to those at neighboring schools. So while I can profess to not "believe" in them, I also fall victim to thinking they are a good measure of a schools success as a whole. So, yes, I am a bit of a hypocrite. (It makes it okay because I can recognize that, right???)

When I looked at Caitlyn's results, I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least! Not that I didn't know my child was intelligent, I did know that (personally, I think she is borderline genius =P). But I was actually surprised at how well she did perform in some areas. For example, I have always thought that Caitlyn struggled in writing. And I say struggled for lack of a better word. Caitlyn has always disliked writing and the writing process. She is always looking to write the minimum amount necessary, to the point of asking me "How many paragraphs/sentences do I need to write to get an A?" Yet, she scored quite well on that portion of the test.

Without further ado, or ramblings, here are her scores:

National Comparisons:
Reading: 97th percentile
Math: 79th percentile
No surprise there. The kid loves to read, is a reading machine, and is not the biggest fan of math. However, in both of these areas, she has "exceeds standards."

The most amazing thing about the reading score is not the percentile that she fell into. The report also lists the number of items as well as the number correct. There were 50 items on the test, Caitlyn answered 46 correct.

Extended Response for Reading (students had to read a passage and write a response to a prompt.)
She scored a 3 out of a possible 4 on this section.
Again, surprising me with the writing ability here.

Overall Writing Score: 28
Focus: 6/6
Support/Elaboration: 5/6
Organization: 5/6
Conventions: 2/3
Integration: 5/6

I am so unbelievable proud of the scores that she got on these! I think what makes it so amazing is the fact that we were told that she would more than likely have some sort of disability for so long. Not that I fault the doctors for that, cause I don't. They were doing their job and giving me information based on the research. But every time this kid does something amazing like this, I am left in awe of her abilities and her strength. Never in a million years would I have thought that she would be as smart as she is. Granted, she really enjoys school and it seems to come very natural to her. Nonetheless, it is still beyond anything that I could have imagined she would have been capable of given her dangerous start in life.

We celebrated in true Walsh form by going out to dinner. Where you might ask? Pizza Hut of course. Where else would we go? There is no food on the planet more beloved to Caitlyn than Pizza Hut.

And not only is my girl brilliant, she is also pretty stinking cute too :)


Colleen said...

Awesome job from and awesome girl!

I was gonna write little, but man has she just grown and grown!

Jill said...

Way to go Caitlyn! She has come so far since her early arrival... nothing to do with great parents though, right? ha!

Misa Mojo said...

Hi mom.. :) I wanna thank you SOOOO much for making MY OWN BLOG!!! ILY SOOOOOOOOO much <3 <3 <3 <3