When you have questions about assessment, finding the answers should be easy.
“All About Tests & Assessments,” co-authored by the Stern Center’s Director of Evaluations, Melissa Farrall, is a comprehensive guide for parents, teachers, and therapists looking to understand how to use tests and assessments to identify students’ challenges and to guide them developing a customized learning plan.
For parents just starting the diagnosis process, you probably have a long list of questions and concerns regarding the best way to help your child. This book addresses those common questions and helps ensure you are a well-informed and well-prepared advocate for your child. This book even suggests additional helpful resources, both online and in print, for the particularly curious parent to explore.
Some questions that this book will help answer are:
- My child struggles with writing and spelling. He needs to be evaluated. What should an assessment of written language include?
- My daughter says she hates math. Math does not come easily to her but I think she can learn if she works at it. Should we get a math assessment?
- My child has speech and language problems. Friends and family often cannot understand what he says. What do I need to know about speech and language assessments?
- My child has ADHD. His teachers say he is smart, but his scores on the IQ test were low. What happened?
- My first grader’s scores on reading assessment sub-tests were below average. His teacher says he will read when he is ready. Do reading test scores improve when a child matures?
What is unique about this book is that the content is accessible for those unfamiliar with the assessment process, learning disabilities, social challenges, behavioral challenges, etc. Parents don’t need to worry about stumbling over specialized terminology or misunderstanding areas of advice, as the content is carefully crafted for parents just beginning the process.
To demonstrate how easy this book is to digest, here is the answer to the question, “my daughter says she hates math. Math does not come easily to her but I think she can learn if she works at it. Should we get a math assessment?”
Answer (found on page 79):
A math assessment provides a sample of skills, not a complete inventory of everything your child knows.
When testing a young child, the examiner should supplement the norm-referenced test battery with criterion-referenced tests that can more thoroughly assess your child’s mastery of number concepts and math facts.
When testing an older child, the same rule applies. If your child has difficulty with algebra, she is likely to have gaps in her knowledge of math facts, fractions, decimals, and integers (positive and negative numbers). A comprehensive assessment should identify these gaps and point the way to effective instruction.
Warning: Parents and teachers need to be aware that most tests of math do not assess higher-level skills in depth. For example, a test may not include problems that test your child’s mastery of algebra and geometry.
Norm-referenced tests (page 26) are standardized tests that compare one child’s performance with the performance of other children in the same age or grade. Norm-referenced tests use scoring systems that are designed to capture a child’s skills with respect to the peer group.
Criterion-referenced tests (page 27) are used to measure knowledge or skills. The child’s score is based on mastery of the material and is usually expressed as a percentage. Teachers use criterion-referenced tests to determine if students have mastered material. Classroom spelling and math tests are criterion-referenced tests.
After reading the answer and definitions above, does this sound like a helpful resource from which you could benefit as you navigate your way through the journey of helping your child achieve success? If so, you’re in luck because this book has been recently revised! As of November 2017, Wrightslaw published the second edition of “All About Tests & Assessments” to include the most current tests and assessments for you to consider as you prepare to understand your child’s challenges.
The initial recognition that your child may be struggling with learning can be scary, but there are plenty of resources out there to support you and your family. You don’t have to go through it alone, and this book is a good starting point.
Some of our instructors and evaluators at the Stern Center have been in your situation – a concerned parent looking to emerge from the confusion, face the unknown, and get answers to take action. We at the Stern Center can identify with some of those feelings swirling inside you, which is why we suggest this as a beneficial parent resource.
All About Tests & Assessments, Second Edition, is available for purchase on Amazon.