California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II

Test interpretation

Common benchmark assessments administered by teachers not only ensure fairness between different classrooms and teachers; they also provide timely consistent data for students and parents. Although teachers have no control over when state and national test results are available, they do have the ability—and the responsibility—to give students timely feedback on local common assessments. If results come within a few days of having taken an examination, students remember questions they had about the material. Reteaching and differentiated instruction can quickly ensure that learning progresses in a timely manner. If results come weeks later, the answer means little in terms of increased learning and instructional planning.

Test interpretation has several layers:

  • Students and parents need help in interpreting the scores and any teacher comments they received. Rubrics help by showing students specific components of the work that they have mastered, as well as areas of learning that need to be developed.

  • Teachers need to interpret both student and class wide results to inform instructional practices (who needs remediation; how well the class is progressing toward mastery of the standards; how effective instruction has been).

  • Professional learning community team members interpret test data to learn how well the students have progressed in mastering the standards. By comparing class scores on an item-by-item basis, team members also learn where curriculum and instructional practices may be weak (if all classes scored poorly on an item). If one class scored consistently higher than other classes, the teacher of that class can share instructional techniques that helped the students master the material.

  • Schoolwide teacher teams use test results to assess overall growth and areas needing improvement as they make plans for the next year.

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