Testing and Performance

Testing has always been part of school, but never like today. Chances are when you went to school, tests were used to see how much you knew and what you had yet to learn. Testing like this is sometimes called diagnostic testing – like going to a doctor for a diagnosis on what might help you feel better.

Today, we have a lot of testing being done to see how a school performs. The use of those test scores is a matter of great controversy not only in Minnesota but nationally. Grading schools in some manner – stars or “A-F” – based on state test scores has often been attempted in Minnesota.

As parents, we consider a variety of factors that make a school great: the curriculum, teaching quality, school climate, choices for individual students, programs and opportunities offered, the management and organization of a school. Should we base a school’s reputation on bubble tests administered once a year? If bubble tests are the sole means of determining real learning and school quality, are we oversimplifying what students need and will receive in school?

And coming soon to this section – a glossary of terms: formative testing, summative testing, MCA, NWEA, MMR, NAEP, MAP testing. It will help to understand what all of these things means.


Resources from the MDE on statewide testing:

Decoding Assessment Acronyms: Testing Glossary

Minnesota Department of Education Data Center (scroll to Student Data)

Understanding the national picture: What do the national tests tell us? The Kids Are All Right – Mostly


Issue areas: