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Blog: Our students are far more than just good test scores

Just uttering the words ‘Standardised Testing’ is enough to send shivers down the spines of many students – and some parents and teachers too for that matter! Many parents feel understandably concerned about their children being judged on the basis of a test that may not correlate with syllabus content or with successful university or career prospects. At ISA, all stakeholders work together and support one another to get the most from our programme of standardised testing.

Standardised testing is an important part of the school year and is part of a wider set of tools that we use to gauge how a child is progressing in both their academic studies and in their broader wellbeing. The vast majority of independent and international schools use various methods of standardised testing each school year. At ISA, the programme begins from Grade 3.

We believe standardised testing can greatly benefit students and the wider school community, but (and here’s the caveat), it needs to be approached in the right way. While data is useful, it’s important not to get caught up in it. Children, like adults, are complex individuals and standardised testing is only one piece of the puzzle. Test scores should never be used as the sole benchmark for student success.

At the heart of what we do is our student-centred approach that focuses on seeing children as individuals with their own learning journey. We will never judge children against averages or put them in competition with each other. They are encouraged to take their own next step and to take responsibility for their learning. Each child’s own excellence is a daily challenge to be better than they were the day before. It’s about helping students understand their own capacities and how to stretch them.

So, what are some of the benefits of Standardised Testing?

Standardised testing remains a very important method of data collection and analysis that helps inform us about student engagement and learning, and gives us an incredibly useful insight into the quality of our curriculum to assess the areas where we are doing well and to highlight areas that may need more attention.

For example, the data gathered is handy for annual internal comparisons where we examine data over a number of years to determine trends i.e why did the maths scores of our 3rd grade students suddenly jump or why has the 6th grade reading level risen sharply – test results allow us to assess changes and look at how we can continue to improve our curriculum.

Just as importantly, we are also able to look at our student’s results year over year to determine certain patterns of learning and behaviour that can help lead to success and overcome any challenges. Test scores are useful on a rudimentary level too as they come from an impartial source and provide data to compare with other international schools across the world.

So, just to reiterate, standardised testing has its place and has huge significance in terms of gathering valuable data for improving procedures and teaching platforms, but it should not be used as the only judgement of student success. My biggest piece of advice for parents when standardised testing rolls around? Stay calm, treat it like any other week and trust the process.

Your children are incredible learners (as well as being amazing humans!) and our pledge to you as educators is to set your child up for future success – and we know that can’t be achieved with a test score.

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