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Testing – Not Just a Number

June 15, 2009

It’s a tricky topic but one that I can’t ignore when it comes to talking about high ability. With all of the testing that our children face in the public school system, ability testing is probably the single most valuable tool we have to measure how each one learns. Ability testing helps us uncover learning disabilities as well as latent talents. And it gives us clues for the best approach in teaching a particular child. Is the student verbal? Spatial? How quickly can they process information? What is their ability to reason?

The ability score, or “number” represents one aspect of the child – it does not define the child, nor should it limit opportunities – rather, it should signal every teacher to the fact that each student who deviates from the norm – in either direction – may need a special type of curriculum. So why do we hesitate to measure ability when it can bring valuable insight to the process of selecting the best education options for our children? And why do educators and the popular press continue to confuse achievement with ability?

Over the course of the summer I hope to explore this topic in depth and I hope you will weigh in with your own stories, questions and resources. As I mention in the Advocacy section of this blog, “a surprising number of parents do not understand the difference between a state achievement test score and a nationally-normed test result. For most parents this will not matter. But the parent of a gifted student must be intimately familiar with the test scores and what they mean.” Posts pertaining to the topic of testing will be grouped under that heading for easy future reference through the blog archive.

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