Sunday, March 1, 2009

Standards, Norms, and Percentile Rankings

I am an odd homeschooling mom. I know it and can readily accept it. I see other homeschool parents groan about standardized testing required in our state starting in 4th grade and required every other year onward. I on the other hand am a closet tester. I get giddy at the site of a score report, stanines, and graphs that display percentile ranks. Please don’t tell anyone.

Not only do I enjoy an occasional standardized test but I go as far as administering them (oh the horror!!!!) I learned I could administer some at home as early as kindergarten. So I happily completed the paper work to administer Michael the IOWA test this January in what would be his Kindergarten year. I did so partially because I knew he was bright and wanted to know just how bright. I also wanted to know that his apparent intelligence wasn’t all in my head. Secretly I also wanted an unbiased third party agreeing with me that he didn’t belong in public school (if you squint your eyes really hard and tilt your head just-so you can see that that is printed on his score report.

So I gave him the IOWAS and have been checking the mail daily waiting…big white manila envelope where are you???

It came today and revealed what I had already known. He’s a smart kiddo.
So I use my broad teacher knowledge to explain it to my husband who looks at me like I am a moron “I understand 99th percentile. Yes I know what it means but thanks for getting all teachery to explain it to me” {He doesn’t really say this but his eyes do).

Next I move on to Michael. I show him the graphs and do a nice job explaining it carefully not using words like ‘smarter” or alike; instead I focus on the fact that he is working above grade level and it is a reflection of his hard work yada yada yada. So now I need to explain the norms as he asks about the 99%. Here is the conversation. It is priceless and does show he has the same competitive spirit as his mom.

ME: The percentages show how you did compared to other kindergarteners all over the United States who took the same test.
So Michael, if 100 kids took this test you scored better than 99% of them.
He proudly smiles and says...”Humph....... I wish I could have beat the 100th kid.” He took great satisfaction out of learning that in my example he WAS the 100th kid. So Meagan is up next. She will venture into the testing world in September and then we'll wait with anticipation the arrival of and envelope addressed to Meagan.


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