Parents’ Guide to Standardized Testing

지난 4개월에 걸쳐 유아원과 킨더가든의 교육관련 정보를 다루었던 교육칼럼 코너에서는 앞으로 두달간 초등학생 자녀를 둔 학부모들을 위해 현직 교사가 제시하는 교육 정보들을 담은 칼럼을 소개한다. 뉴저지에서는 초등학교 3학년이 되면 주정부에서 주관하는 Standardized Tests를 치루게 되는데, 이 시험은 어떤 취지에서 언제 치루게 되는 것이며, 시험과목에는 어떤 것들이 있고, 또 시험의 결과는 무엇을 의미하는지에 대해 학부모들의 이해를 돕기 위해 준비한 칼럼이다. 리지필드 공립학교 교사로 재직하고 있는 Angela Park선생님의 칼럼이 학부모들에게 큰 유익과 도움이 되기를 바란다.

글  Young(Angela) Park (리지필드 공립 초등학교 교사)

New Jersey public elementary schools have been administering stan-dardized testing to its students for over forty years.  With the passing of different federal and state laws, and with the adoption of different standards, the tests have been amended and changed with different names throughout the years.  The standardized tests parents may be familiar with include ESPA (1997-2002), NJ ASK (2ㅊ003-2013), and the PARCC (2014-2017).  

Starting in 2018-2019 school year, the PARCC will change once again to NJSLA (NJ Student Learning Assessment). Parents need not worry about getting their child ready for a new test, the format and standards have not changed from the PARCC. The main change is the reduction in the number of sections and questions on the test. Students will be taking the test for a shorter amount of time (depending on the grade and subject, about 25 percent less testing). Students in grades 5, 8, and 11 will still be taking the science assessment known as the NJSLA-S (NJ Student Learning Assessment Science).

Many parents want to know how the scores will affect their child.  To be quite frank, the scores are used more to evaluate the school perfor-mance to ensure that it’s meeting state and national standards.  It is up to the individual school districts to decide how they will use the individ-ual student’s scores.  Yes, some schools do use the scores to guide in class placements for the following school year, but standardized testing scores are just one of the many different factors considered. The stu-dent’s overall school performance and teacher recommendations are far outweighed over the scores from a single standardized test.

The scores do provide useful information for the parents about the child’s progress. They can see the child’s overall score, and which level he/she falls into (Level 1 being the lowest to Level 5 being the highest).  They can also see the child’s growth percentile from the previous school year.  The scores should be thought of more as a formative assessment.  It should be used as a guide to identify areas of mastery and areas of difficulty to help parents and educators pinpoint which studies to focus on in the future.

The PARCC (and now the NJSLA) is administered to students in grades 3 to 11, in areas of ELA, Math and Science (grades 5, 8, and 11 only). The assessment is aligned to higher-level and critical thinking skills. Where the previous assessments were heavily concentrated with mul-tiple choice questions testing memorized facts, the PARCC aims to assess the students’ ability to apply their knowledge with open-ended questions.  In ELA, students are required to read the given texts closely and analyze both fiction and non-fiction texts and write essays justify-ing their reasoning with textual evidence.  In Math, students must solve multi-step problems that require reasoning skills. They must not only give the right answer, but be able to justify their answer by explaining the steps used.

So what does this all mean?  

Schools are moving away from teaching students to memorizing re-mote facts, and instead, teaching them to become higher-level think-ers.  In this day and age, when Alexa, Google or any other internet based device can spit out the factual information we seek in seconds, do we really want to teach our children to memorize facts that are of-ten a disinterest to them?

In schools, we discourage kids from simply memorizing spelling words, instead we teach the spelling rules behind the words, so they can gener-alize the rule when they encounter new words.  Not only do we encour-age reading, but we encourage them to verbalize and write responses to their reading.  Reading is not just a fluency skill, but a thinking pro-cess.  Students must learn to think about their reading and be able to verbalize and in turn, write about their responses to the book.  In math, students are encouraged to think about real world situations where math can be applied.  They are taught not only to memorize math facts (which I do think is important for automaticity), but be able to use differ-ent strategies to get to the same one answer.  They are taught to think about the mathematical process and not just the end result.

What can parents do at home? 

–  Foster a healthy study habit at home by setting a routine that children can follow with clear expectations.  For example, set a given amount of uninterrupted time (30 min to 1 hour) that children must spend doing their homework.  If they are done with their homework, they must read a book for the remaining time.

–  Help your child find and read books that are on their level.  Children should be reading books at their level (not too easy or too challeng-ing) to fully benefit from the experience.  Ask your child’s teacher for his/her reading level if you are unsure. 

–  Talk about the reading with your child.  Ask questions about the story (ask your child’s teacher for a list of general questions that can be ap-plied to multiple books).  Verbalizing their reading will help make the reading experience concrete.  Children must be able to verbalize their thoughts before they can write about them.  When children know they are being held accountable for their reading, they will read more closely and read for understanding, not just read to get through the book.

–  Have your child keep a reading response journal at home (grades 3 and above).

–  Teach your children to become expressive by holding one on one and family conversations.  Ask why questions to help your child reflect on their experience and expand their thoughts. Family conversations where a child feels safe and comfortable to express himself will pro-duce a confident child.

–  Doing well academically is important, but it is more important to raise a well-rounded, confident, and self-assured child.  It is crucial that chil-dren get enough play time with their friends. 

Young (Angela) Park

– Elementary school teacher at Ridgefield Public Schools

– Masters of Arts in Elementary Teaching from Montclair State University

– Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Psychology from New York University

– Teacher of elementary grades for over 10 years

– Co-Founder of SJ Enrichment Summer Camp (summer camp based in Palisades Park and Paramus (formerly Demarest) since 2011

– Mother of 4 year old boy

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창간 20주년을 맞이한 북동부 최대의 한인 라이프스타일 매거진
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