Get Smart About Testing
It is increasingly important for parents to be informed about what’s going on in their child’s school. In most cases a conversation with the school principal will be enough; but, if not, you should address your school superintendent or school board. And if the answers leave you even more confused, contact one of the organizations listed in our Resources for help in assessing the information.

Here are some questions you can ask:


Each state selects its own test from a testing company and then works with that company to “customize” it. There are currently four companies that dominate the market for statewide tests.

>What standards does the test address?

• What is the format of the test?

• How is classroom instruction related to what’s on the test?

• When will I know the results of the test?

• What impact will the results of the test have on my child? 


• Where can I get basic information about the school and district accountability system?

• Is there an accountability report or other document that will provide detailed information about the enrollment, academic achievements, teaching staff and academic program of the school?


>What exactly should my child learn in school this year?

• Can I see a copy of the state or district standards?

School Choice

If you’re dissatisfied with the answers to the previous questions, or if you’re new to a district, you might want to explore your options regarding school choice.

Does the district have any charter schools?

• Is my child required to attend the school nearest to me, or may I select any of the public schools available?

• Where can I find information about the different schools in this area?


For the latest information on educational policy and ways to support and supplement your child’s education, check out:

Center for Performance, 303-504-9312; this nonprofit group works with governmental organizations and school districts to improve standards, assessments, and accountability systems. Douglas Reeves, the center’s president is the author of Crusade in the Classroom, Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Council for Basic, 202-347-4171; an independent, nonprofit organization that is the leading advocate for the development of high academic standards in K-12 education.

The Education Trust, 202-293-1217; this nonprofit, nonpartisan group advocates for improving academic opportunities for all students., 617-864-4810; a national center for fair and open testing.

International Center for Educational; provides an updated list of links to standards for all 50 states.

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) –, 202-502-7458.

No Child Left Behind (President Bush’s Statement on Education) –