A couple of weeks ago, the boys had their yearly academic evaluations. We’ve chosen every year to have them tested via national standardized tests, because I like having that type of feedback about what they’ve learned. Although I’m aware test scores aren’t always the best indicator of what children know, they do give an indication, to a point. This was Gray’s fourth time having this testing done, so it’s not a big deal to him. But it was Des’ first time ever! He was a little nervous beforehand, but once he got there and met his tester, he was fine.
We were just a little worried about Des’ ability to take a formal test well, and he’s had some struggles with learning (though he made huge strides last year in both reading, writing, and math abilities). However, his tester told us afterward that he did very well during the testing, and also that his scores might surprise us. We got the results a week later, and he was right— Des did surprise us! His scores ranged between 85th and 97th percentile! The overall average of all his scores was 92nd percentile. Incredible, considering where he was a year ago. I’m very proud of him for all his hard work, even those times when learning didn’t come as easy for him. And again, I can’t rave enough about Abeka’s Phonics and Arithmetic programs for K & 1st grade students!
And next, it was Gray’s turn.
Gray did almost as well as he’s always done, but his scores in general were a little lower than previous years. Still, all his percentiles fell between 85th and 98th percentile, with an overall average of 93rd percentile. There was one exception, and it was one of the writing sections. He misunderstood the instructions, which were to write as many sentences as he could within a 2-minute time period. He’s been taught to write strong, detailed sentences, and that’s what he did. Unfortunately, because his sentences were on the longer side, he only got a few sentences written within two minutes, and his score was 58th percentile. Not a bad score, but it’s way low for him, and not anywhere near an accurate depiction of his writing ability. This is a prime example of the flaws of standardized testing! Before we submit the results to the school district, Philip is going to discuss this score with the tester and ask if it can be noted by the tester that Gray misunderstood the instructions, and the score isn’t truly representative of his ability. His writing scores from previous years can be used to back that up. Our school district has always been easy to work with (they okayed us to skip a year of evaluation during the year I was so sick that it was impossible for Philip to even take them to be tested), so I’m sure they’ll at least make note of the anomaly for him in his records.
That’s it for another year! I’m debating whether or not to switch to portfolio evaluations in the future, rather than standardized testing. Just taking that one low writing score, for example…it bothered him (and us!) that he scored so low, in light of his ability. If someone only looks at the number and not the circumstances, they’ll miss the fact that that the boy can write, and he writes well. He writes all the time. He has a gift for it. On the other hand, during a portfolio evaluation, the evaluator would see samples of Gray’s actual writing (rather than that done for the sake of a test), and there’d be no doubt he’s progressing well in his writing ability. These are reasons that make me lean toward portfolio evaluation in the future. Yet, it’s still hard for me to let go of being able to see their abilities represented by a score and a percentile— regardless of the cons that come with that method. I have lots to ponder over the next year. Overall, though, I’m pleased with both boys’ results and am very proud of their achievements.