What Are Standardized Tests and What Do Those Test Scores Mean?By Huntington Learning Center
Raising children today means that you’re very familiar with standardized testing.
Standardized tests have been around for a long time but became especially noteworthy in the early 2000s with the passing of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, which mandated annual testing of students in grades 3-8 in every state and had punitive provisions for schools that did not make adequate yearly progress toward grade-level standards.
In 2015, No Child Left Behind was replaced by the Every Student Succeeds Act, which offers greater flexibility on standardized testing. Still, the fact remains: while your child is in school, she is going to be tested and measured via some form of standardized test.
What do standardized tests test?
To put it simply, they measure how students are progressing toward grade-level standards in core subjects including math, English language arts, science and social studies. Each state gives tests—often called statewide assessments—to students in grades 3 through 8 toward the end of the school year. Those exams are intended to provide an overall measurement of:
- How your student is performing in key content areas.
- What your student knows and what he needs to succeed in the future.
- Whether he is on track toward building higher-level thinking skills such as writing and problem solving.
Across the nation, there has been a movement toward refocusing teaching on helping students learn and not preparing for standardized tests. So, the assessment of today is different than the assessment of several years ago. Students are spending less time taking tests, but states still place value on measuring what students know and what gaps exist (so they can determine how to close those gaps).
Types of assessment tests
When the Common Core State Standards were introduced in 2010, many states started using either the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) or Smarter Balanced tests that were aligned to Common Core. Things have changed since then, with only one-third of states using either test (as of spring 2019, according to Edweek.org). The other 32 states use tests that they designed themselves or purchased from another source, while three states give hybrid tests that mix their own questions with questions from PARCC/New Meridian or Smarter Balanced. Here’s a summary of the standardized 3-8 tests used in each state as of 2019:
State Name 3-8 Test
Alaska Performance Evaluation for Alaska's Schools (PEAKS)
Arkansas ACT Aspire
California Smarter Balanced
Colorado Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS)
Connecticut Smarter Balanced
Delaware Smarter Balanced
Florida Florida Standards Assessments (FSA)
Georgia Georgia Milestones
Hawaii Smarter Balanced
Idaho Smarter Balanced
Iowa Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP)
Kansas Kansas Assessment Program (KAP)
Kentucky Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP)
Louisiana Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP)
Maine Maine Educational Assessment (MEA)
Massachusetts Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS)
Michigan Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP), PSAT
Minnesota Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA)
Mississippi Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP)
Missouri Missouri Assessment Program (MAP)
Montana Smarter Balanced
Nebraska Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS)
Nevada Smarter Balanced
New Hampshire New Hampshire Statewide Assessment System (NHSAS), *Performance Assessment of Competency Education (PACE) (some districts)
New Jersey PARCC
New Mexico PARCC
New York New York State Assessments
North Carolina North Carolina End-of-Grade Tests
North Dakota North Dakota State Assessment (NDSA)
Ohio Ohio's State Tests
Oklahoma Oklahoma School Testing Program
Oregon Smarter Balanced
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA)
Rhode Island Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System (RICAS)
South Carolina SCReady
South Dakota Smarter Balanced
Texas State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR)
Utah Readiness Improvement Success Empowerment (RISE)
Vermont Smarter Balanced
Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL)
Washington Smarter Balanced
West Virginia West Virginia General Summative Assessment
Wisconsin Wisconsin Forward
Wyoming Wyoming Test of Proficiency and Progress (WY-TOPP)
The most up-to-date information about testing in your state, including specific skills and subject areas that will be tested as well as any recommended or required high school tests (such as exit exams), is available on your state’s Department of Education website. For questions about how to help your child best prepare for success on any exam, standardized or other, contact Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN.