Annual Academic Testing
Each year, Shelton's Testing Department conducts annual academic testing throughout Shelton's Middle School. Test scores are used:
- to measure the student's current academic skills
- for proper classroom placement
- to individualize / adjust the student's curriculum plan
Middle School students are tested in reading, spelling, math, and writing skills. After all tests are administered and scored, an Annual Testing Report, showing current and previous test scores, is mailed to the student's parents. In mid-May, a parent meeting is held, where tests and test scores are explained and questions are answered. An example of a Middle School Annual Testing Report is shown below.
Reading skills are measured by the Gray Oral Reading Test – 5th Ed. The student reads a series of short paragraphs out loud. At the end of each paragraph the examiner asks five comprehension questions. The student continues to read and answer questions until a sufficient number of decoding errors are made. Three reading scores are given: Reading Rate, Reading Accuracy, and Reading Comprehension. Spelling skills are measured by the Test of Written Spelling – 5th Ed. Given in the classroom, the examiner reads a list of increasingly difficult words and the students write each word on their paper. Math skills are measured by the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement – 4th Ed. Calculations, a test of written math computations, covers a large gamut of mathematics from simple addition and subtraction, to fractions and decimals, to advanced algebra and beyond. Applied Problems, a story problem test, measures a student's ability to apply mathematical conceptual and problem solving skills to a given set of information. For students in grade six, Writing skills are measured by the Spontaneous Writing Sample, an untimed creative writing task given in the classroom in which the student writes five sentences (random and unrelated) and a paragraph (in response to a prompt). Three writing scores are given: Writing Mechanics, Writing Content, and Writing Overall. For students in grades seven and eight, a brief essay is used to measure Writing skills. Responding to a prompt and using their laptop computers in the classroom, students write an essay in a clear, logical and convincing way, using specific examples framed in a broader context.
All reading, spelling and math scores on the Annual Testing Report are grade equivalent scores. They refer to the year and month in school of students who performed similarly on each test. A grade equivalent score of 7.4, for example, indicates performance at the fourth month of seventh grade. Writing scores for students in grade six are percentage scores, calculated by comparing points earned to possible points. For students in grades seven and eight, the scoring procedure mirrors that used by SAT and ACT; essays are read by two persons; scores range from 2 (poor) to 12 (excellent).
Three FAQs about Annual Academic Testing
1. My student is Pattern 2, 3, 6 [for example]? What does that mean? Shelton School classifies learning disabilities into nine separate categories—we call them patterns (see below). By knowing each student's unique pattern (most students have multiple patterns), Shelton teachers can quickly identify the student's learning needs and plan instruction accordingly. Patterns can and will change; each summer patterns are audited by the testing department and changes are made as necessary. A student's pattern should not be confused with his/her diagnosis; “diagnosis” is a broadly recognized term with legitimate professional status; “pattern” is a term used only at Shelton.
- Pattern 1 = Reading Weakness
- Pattern 2 = Comprehension Weakness
- Pattern 3 = Attention Weakness
- Pattern 4 = Math Weakness
- Pattern 5 = Motor Weakness
- Pattern 6 = Oral Language Disorder
- Pattern 7 = Visual/Spatial Weakness
- Pattern 8 = Mood/Anxiety
- Pattern 9 = At Risk for Learning Disorder
2. What’s the academic plan going forward? How will these latest annual testing scores affect the class placement, remedial strategy, and overall curriculum plan for my student? Academic planning decisions going forward are made by administrators, department chairpersons, and teachers within your student's division. You should consult with them.
- Mellany Barnett, Associate Head of School, Assistant Head of Middle School
- Lisa Tyler, Head of Middle School
- Patricia Gallaher, Assistant Head of Middle School
3. I have a question about my student’s learning disability and test scores. Who should I talk to?