As Educational Specialists, we are often asked about the difference between state testing requirements and private educational evaluations. Many parents also want to know how an educational evaluation is beneficial if they do not have any existing academic concerns.
State Testing & Educational Evaluations: There is a Difference
Many schools across the nation administer some type of norm-referenced achievement tests to large groups of students. These assessments have been widely used for decades and are often a controversial topic among parents and educators. The data obtained from these broad, school-based assessments is used to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers, school systems and whether the state-wide educational goals and standards are being met.
Diagnostic educational evaluations differ in that they measure academic achievement based on an individual’s needs. They can be beneficial in determining the reason for academic difficulties, such as, the presence of a Specific Learning Disorder. These evaluations are often the first step towards getting your child additional support at school; however, there are other benefits to this type of testing that is often over looked.
Benefits of Educational Evaluations: When Learning isn’t a Concern
With a significant amount of testing being conducted in schools, the benefits of additional testing are often overlooked. This is especially true when families don’t have concerns about their child’s ability to learn; however, these evaluations can be beneficial in planning ahead academically.
- Building upon Strengths: One of the greatest advantages of educational evaluations is to identify academic strengths. When these strengths are identified, it is easier to promote growth and challenge students. So often the focus is on improving academic weaknesses, yet honing an individual’s strengths promotes self-esteem and targets areas in which your child can excel. Academic strengths can be specific to a particular subject (i.e. reading comprehension), but can also include traits such as: critical thinking skills, attention to detail and creativity.
- Self-Awareness & Self-Advocacy: Regardless of your child’s age, having an awareness of their academic strengths and weaknesses can help them thrive in school. Self-awareness can help students seek opportunities to grow these skills and feels less defeated by challenges. Focusing on positive traits and promoting strengths can lead to improved engagement and better grades. Being able to identify and have a deeper understanding of academic weaknesses, can help promote self-advocacy skills.
- Approach to Learning: Educational evaluations can also provide insight to your child’s approach to learning. This may include ideas or strategies for how information can be presented by teacher to optimize learning. Many families find value in understanding what approaches work best for homework time, studying and learning new information.