The original purpose of standardized testing

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The original purpose of standardized testing

Standardized testing is a way for schools to compare achievement of students across a wide variety of environments. We take a benchmark of skills that we expect students to learn at a certain grade level; and then give students that range in various states, in urban, in rural settings, international settings, even, to be able for us to see how each student is doing in relationship to their peers. Standardized testing is gauged on a percentile. It is not the percentile that the student answers correctly, it marks them against other students. So a student scoring in the 50th percentile, would be smack dab in the middle. They would have 49 students who achieved better than them on that test, and 49 students that achieved lower than them on that test. Standardized testing allows schools to evaluate their curriculum. Fortunately, we are getting more and more into evaluating schools and teachers. It was meant as a way for us to gauge our National standards and be able to gauge individual achievements, irregardless of the educational environment they were participating in.

See Carolyn McWilliams, MA's video on The original purpose of standardized testing...


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Carolyn McWilliams, MA

Educational Specialist

Carolyn is currently an educational therapist and educational consultant helping students, parents, and schools meet the challenges of gifted students with learning challenges through her offices in Santa Monica, California. Carolyn also does general consulting with schools on topics from curriculum development to teaching study skills to interpretation of student test scores.

Carolyn began her educational career in Santa Barbara, California, where she received her B.A. and M.A. and became a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Administration with an emphasis on Curriculum and Instruction. She served as a supervisor of student teachers and taught courses across the educational curriculum during her eight years at UCSB.

After completing her studies, Carolyn moved to Los Angeles where she served as the head of Adat Ari El Day School in Valley Village and as a consultant on issues of learning and instruction to Jewish day schools across the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Spectrum, as well as to elementary and secondary schools of all types. During this time she also served on the faculty of California State University at Northridge.

The parent of three highly gifted daughters of her own (one with learning challenges), throughout her career, Carolyn has designed innovative strategies, as well as unique programs to help gifted students achieve life success. She established the Johns Hopkins Center for Academically Talented Youth (CTY) Summer Commuter Program held at the University of California Los Angeles and served as parent liaison for the CTY to the press and larger community. She was the founder and head of Bridges Academy, which serves a population of twice-exceptional students in grades 6-12, from 1994-2003 (

Carolyn has been a classroom teacher in both Goleta Union and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. She was LAUSD Teacher of the Year, was one of five finalists for California Teacher of the Year, and was given an Outstanding Educator Award by the Los Angeles Times. She has published curriculum and articles in the areas of special education, social studies, English, educational computing, ESL, multi-cultural education, study skills, and classroom organization. She regularly presents at conferences and schools on topics related to curriculum, instruction, classroom organization, gifted students, and special needs populations. 

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