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District Exams Help Evaluate Student Progress

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During the 2017-2018 school year, there have been several mandatory tests issued by the Livermore Joint Unified School District at Livermore High School. These test scores are usually compiled for the district and school administrators to see how students are scoring.

According to Helen Gladden, Director of Curriculum and Special Projects at the district office, there are seven required tests given to high schoolers during the 2017-2018 school year.

These tests are: the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, the California Assessment of Student Progress and Performance, the California Assessment of Student Progress and Performance Interim Blocks, the English Language Proficiency Test for English Learners, the High School Literacy Benchmark, Physical Fitness testing, and Advanced Placement testing.

The PSAT is a practice test for the SAT. The SAT is a very important college admissions exam, which is usually taken during a student’s junior year.

All sophomores are able to take the PSAT free of charge because of a partnership with the Pedrozzi Foundation.  

The CAASPP is administered to juniors in order to show the district whether or not students are prepared to graduate and participate in college-level classes, and thrive in their chosen career.

Along with the CAASPP, there are the Interim Blocks, which is administered throughout the school year to juniors. These tests give students practice questions in the same format as the annual summative assessment, which is a lot like the PSAT, in that it exposes students to the testing conditions they will experience in the real test.

One test that is given to a minority of the student body is the English Language Proficiency Test for English Learners. This is given once a year to students who are identified as English learners. The students will continue taking the test until they are reclassified as proficient in English.

The High School Literacy Benchmark is given to freshmen, sophomores, and seniors. This test is to show the district how students are advancing in their writing, and show teachers in the English Department what they will have to do in order to effectively teach their students. Instead of participating in this particular test, juniors are given the CAASPP Interim Performance Task, which also tests writing abilities.

Physical fitness testing is given to all Physical Education students at LHS to help students start life-long habits of regular physical activity. For all California students, the test is called the FITNESSGRAM®. Students in fifth, seventh, and ninth grade take the fitness test, but in tenth grade, students will retake any of the six tests that they failed.

AP testing is given after taking one of the AP classes administered by The College Board. The curriculum consists of standardized high school courses that are roughly equivalent to undergraduate college courses. After finishing an AP class, students may take the AP exam in that subject, which can earn them credits and accelerated placement in college.

A concern about these district-wide tests is what effect overall bad scores could have on students, schools, and the district as a whole. None of these scores will have an effect on students’ grades, but they do play a part in their future.

AP testing and the SAT are big concerns for high school students that are hoping to attend a four-year college. The PSAT gives students an idea of where they stand academically and what they need to work on to improve their score.

As for students who receive especially good grades on the tests, Gladden says, “We [the district] believe the reward of good results is the knowledge that one is progressing well toward college and career preparedness.”

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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