Does Standardized Testing Still Matter?

Measuring Individual Learning and Academic Growth Still Valuable in Elementary School

Standardized testing has its share of critics and critiques—and the resulting negative rap hasn’t been entirely unfair, either. As an example, different test designs and ways of administering tests are themselves based on subjective decisions. It’s probably also no surprise that a standardized test doesn’t measure some important components of what makes education meaningful—particularly in a Christian school environment: things like creativity, persistence, self-discipline, leadership, reliability, and integrity. 

Despite the hesitation to give too much weight to the value of standardized testing, such tests widely remain a popular measure of student achievement, as they arguably still provide the most fair and objective learning assessment, thereby helping to ensure classrooms and schools remain accountable to their stakeholders. 

To this end, Community Christian School has for many years conducted bi-annual testing, called the Canadian Test of Basic Skills (CTBS), to assess student learning, get a picture of each student’s strengths and weaknesses, and also obtain a good picture of how CCS measures up as far as providing a robust, challenging educational program. 

This year, however, in conjunction with the support and leadership of the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools, CCS has chosen to pilot a newer—more modern—assessment tool called Measures of Academic Progress (MAP). Administered in an online format—each student takes his or her own test individually at a computer—each assessment adapts to the learning level of the student as the test progresses, thereby assessing not only achievement, but providing key information on next learning steps. Each test also covers a range of disciplines in the areas of mathematics, reading and language. 

MAP is carried out three times over the course of a school year, as a way to continually assess each student’s learning readiness, growth, and achievement, as well as be able to compare this data both across the classroom, and against national norms.  What is particularly valuable, and what CCS is excited to engage with, is the wide range of informative and comparative data that MAP reports provide: All testing results are available to teachers within 24 hours of testing, allowing their classroom instruction, as well as any individual instruction, to be informed using reliable, up-to-date data. Furthermore, every student’s growth is measured, regardless of grade level performance, with the ability for goals to be set, based on results, to ensure learning continues to move forward.

As CCS conducts the MAP testing two more times over the course of this school year (the first, or baseline, assessment session took place in early October), staff will be working together to learn how to best use all the rich data in a way that reinforces best teaching practices that resonate with each student’s learning style, with the ultimate goal being to foster overall learning success.

– T. Allard, CCS Learning Resource Specialist