What Is Achievement Testing & Why Does Brook Hill Use It?

From the desk of Sandra Fritcher, Lower School Principal

Every spring, usually in April, the Lower School participates in achievement testing. We utilize the nationally-normed CTB Terra Nova Achievement Test for grades K-5.

Why? The assessment provides us with another source of information that is helpful in determining individual and group needs of our students. It also helps us assess levels of competence, diagnose strengths/weaknesses, and evaluate our curriculum. We use the test to evaluate our teaching strategies and goals so that we can improve as a school. However, an achievement test assessment is only one small part of a total picture.

What exactly is an achievement test?  It is an assessment of developed skills and/or knowledge, and is designed to test what a student should know in certain areas. The main goal is to determine what a student already knows. The results also tell us the areas where a student is weak.  An achievement test does not measure intelligence or aptitude. It only gives a picture of what a student knows/does not know at the present moment, not the potential a student has for learning.  How a student performs day to day, year to year is the best indicator of success.

The questions are written by content specialists who understand what students are expected to learn in a school year. The questions measure the most important skills and content for each grade level. Subject areas tested include reading skills, reading comprehension, language, vocabulary, spelling, math computation, math problem solving, science, and social studies. The tests are timed, and the time for each individual subject area is determined by the test writers.

Once the testing is completed, the test answer documents are sent to a testing center to be machine-scored. The results and brief explanations are then provided to our parents and teachers.  Using these results, we can plan for a more efficient and productive academic program, providing a better learning experience for our students.