Standardised Tests

Your child and standardised testing

Information for parents

During your child’s time in primary school he/she will complete standardised tests in English reading and in maths. Most primary schools in the Republic of Ireland have been using these tests for many years. From 2007 schools must use the tests at certain times and share the results with you. This leaflet explains what standardised tests are and how they can help your child’s learning.

What is a standardised test?

We are all familiar with the idea of tests in school. Your child probably tells you how he/she did in a spelling or tables test prepared by the teacher. A standardised test is another kind of test. It is used to measure a child’s achievement in English reading and maths compared to other children throughout the country at the same class level or age level. The English reading test gives information about how well your child can understand what he/she has read. This test does not gather information on your child’s written or spoken English. The maths test finds out how well your child can use numbers for different purposes and solve maths problems.

Schools can choose from a number of standardised tests which have been developed for use in primary schools in Ireland. These tests are based on the curriculum. There are different levels of the tests so, for example, the test your child does in first/second class will relate to your child’s age and the curriculum for that class level.

Are standardised tests the same as intelligence tests?

No. Standardised tests are not intelligence tests. The main purposes of using standardised tests are to help the teacher plan your child’s learning, and to inform you about how well your child is doing in English reading and maths. When the test scores are used alongside other information gathered by the teacher through observing your child at work, talking with him/her and looking at his/her work, they show how your child is getting on in English reading and maths, and help the teacher to identify your child’s strengths and needs.

What are standardised tests used for?

Standardised tests are used to

  • report to you as a parent on your child’s achievement in English reading and maths
  • help to find out if your child has learning difficulties in English reading and maths so that the school can put appropriate supports in place
  • help to find out if your child is a high achiever in English reading and maths so that appropriate learning experiences can be provided for him/her
  • help your child’s teacher plan for further learning across the curriculum because your child’s achievement in English reading and maths is important for all his/her learning.

When are standardised tests carried out?

Schools are required to use standardised tests twice during your child’s time at primary school:

  • at the end of first class OR at the beginning of second class
  • AND at the end of fourth class OR at the beginning of fifth class.
  • Some schools use the tests in other classes too.

Do all children take standardised tests?

A small number of children might not take the tests. For example, if your child’s first language is not English, the teacher may decide that he/she should not take the English reading test. Your child may, however, take the maths test. If your child has a learning or physical disability, the teacher may decide not to give the test but to use a different way to check on your child’s progress. In all cases, the teacher will use the information he/she has about your child to decide whether or not your child should take the English reading test and the maths test.

Should I help my child prepare for standardised tests?

No. Standardised tests are one source of information about your child’s achievement in English reading and maths. The teacher gathers information about your child’s learning all the time. Your child will take the standardised tests on a regular school day as part of his/her daily work in the classroom. Indeed, your child may not even realise he/she has taken the tests!
How will I know how my child has done on the standardised tests?
Your child’s class teacher will share the test results with you, typically at a parent/teacher meeting or in a school report. You will see the results of the tests on your child’s school report in first or second class and again in fourth or fifth class depending on when your child takes the tests.

How will I know what the test scores mean?

You will be familiar with hearing your child say he/she got 62% in a maths test or 9 out of 15 in a spelling test. Standardised tests generally use other types of scores. Your child’s teacher may tell you how your child did in the test using a STen (standard ten) score which rates children from 1-10; 5 being average/ or a Standardised Score from 70 – 130, 100 being average.