Academic Achievement

The meaning of the term "achievement" must be considered in relation to family involvement in schools. It is important to know how the achievement was measured before conclusions can be drawn about the relationship between family involvement and academic achievement.

More often than not, standardized test scores are used to determine how well students are doing in school. Standardized testing is taken for granted in this country. The general population does not question whether or not these measures are valid ways to assess their children's development and learning. In reality, these tests are determinants of accountability, a term used by those in power who need to know how effectively systems work. But should schools be so hooked on standardized tests for children?

In recent years, testing programs have increased (Kamii, 1990). Raising scores and having a good appearance are the goals for most schools because newspapers and other media rank schools and districts by test scores. Other facets of society also rely on these test scores to determine the "best" schools. For example, real estate agents sell houses for families by using test scores to identify "good" school districts. But do these scores depict children's actual achievement?

The newer approaches to teaching children rely upon old methods of assessing achievement, and the two are not compatible. Warash and Comuntzis-Page (1996) have pointed out the inadequacies of mixing a more holistic curriculum with traditional pencil-and-paper assessment tools. The authors make a strong argument for looking beyond the traditional evaluation methods.

Gardner (1993) also agrees that academic achievement should be measured in a number of ways:

For more information about assessing student achievement, see the Pathways issues on assessment.

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