Assessment & Standardized Testing
At the Laboratory Schools, student progress is assessed using a wide variety of measures.
In the classroom, teachers evaluate assignments, projects, quizzes and tests, and overall class participation and engagement. Students also take standardized tests in grades 3, 4, 6, 8, and the PSAT in high school. Lab views standardized testing as only part of a student’s profile; it gives teachers a snapshot of each child’s strengths and challenges. Standardized tests are designed to give a common measure of students’ performance and add to an overall profile of student achievement. Since standardized tests are given to large groups of students across the country, a common standard of measure is derived.
Lower and Middle School
Twice during a child’s Lower School years (in grades 3 and 4) and twice during a child’s Middle School years (in grades 6 and 8) Lab administers a standardized test, the ERB/eCTP test.
The Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP) is an achievement test, designed to measure what students have already learned in school. Lab administers the electronic (online) eCTP version of the Electronic Records Bureau (ERB) test. Included are sub-tests in English language arts, mathematics, and verbal and quantitative reasoning.
The Laboratory Schools provide a series of opportunities for students to practice taking and prepare for the standardized college entrance exams that many colleges and universities require as part of their application processes.
There are two national exams, the SAT®, administered by the College Board, and the ACT, administered by the ACT organization. Colleges and universities will generally accept either of these assessments in their admissions process. How should a student make the choice if both are accepted? The answer is simple: Choose whichever gives the strongest results for the student based upon the results of optional practice tests that Lab makes available to its students.
These tests, the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT, which is required of all Lab students, and the optional, but encouraged practice ACT test, help inform Lab’s college counselors in determining the better test format for an individual student and recommending a standardized testing plan for that student’s college application process.
Scores from the PSAT and practice ACT tests are reported to counselors, parents, and students, but are not part of the credentials reported for college applications.
Grades 10 & 11: Required PSAT test, October
U-High administers the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®) test in both the sophomore and junior years. It is a testing program co-sponsored by the College Board, a nationally recognized educational organization, and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, located in Evanston. The College Board, in conjunction with the Educational Testing Service, creates, administers, and scores the PSAT exam. This test measures students’ skills and abilities developed over many years in math and in evidence-based reading, writing, and language. This standardized test provides firsthand practice for the SAT®.
The PSAT also gives juniors a chance to compete in the National Merit and Achievement scholarship programs, and to gain access to some extra college and career planning tools. However, its primary function is as a practice test for future college admissions exams.
Grade 10: Optional, but encouraged, practice ACT Test, April
The ACT Test is a curriculum-based achievement readiness test commonly used in college admissions decisions. The ACT measures students’ skills and abilities in English, mathematics, reading, science, and writing. Academic Approach, a local test prep company partners with Lab every April to offers Lab sophomores an opportunity to take a practice ACT to receive a predicted score, and to experience the true format of the test. Score results will be made available to students and parents in Naviance, an online database used at U-High for college information, comparison, and credential submission.