What is the ERB?

ERB Achievement Testing

STE faculty administers achievement tests in the spring of each school year for grades 1-8 for the purpose of measuring student progress through the year and to assess the outcome of our teaching. Please use the information below to better understand the purpose and direction for the ERB CTP 4 Tests administered April 7-10 in the middle school.

A.  Broad view of St. Thomas’ Episcopal School Achievement Testing

B.  How do I prepare my child for the ERB test week?

A1. What achievement test does STE use?

Since 1927 the Educational Records Bureau (ERB), a non-profit educational service organization, has been responsible for the development, administration and scoring of these tests for more than 2000 independent and suburban public school members. ERB is the publisher of the achievement test and admissions tests that are used at St. Thomas’ Episcopal School, as well as the SAT tests that students take for college entrance. You will often hear these tests referred to as the ERBs, but the actual name of the test is the CTP 4 (Comprehensive Testing Program), in its paper-pencil format and CTP in its online format.

A2. Does ERB construct these tests?

CTP 4 was developed for the Educational Research Bureau (ERB) by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), a leader in test development. ETS is the group responsible for the development of the SAT, so in one very wide sense of the word, they are practicing for the SAT.

A3. What is covered in this test?

The table below shows the various tests that are taken and at which grade levels they are administered. The two tests that are bolded are known as “reasoning” tests and the others are achievement tests. Achievement tests generally give a picture of mastery of skills and knowledge acquired directly through instruction in the classroom. Questions on the two reasoning tests give a picture of the students’ facility with subtle abstract relationships in numbers and words in addition to the students’ ability to recognize logical relationships in unfamiliar contexts. Achievement and reasoning tests together guide the school in determining how to work with individual students. These scores together often help determine if the student is working up to or beyond his potential, can explain classroom performance, and often inform appropriate classroom responses.

Test Name/Grade Level

Grade 1

Grade 2

Grade 3

Grade 4

Grade 5

Grade 6

Grade 7

Grade 8

Word Analysis

x

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auditory Comprehension

x

x

x

 

 

 

 

 

Reading Comprehension

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

Writing Mechanics

 

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

Writing Concepts and Skills

 

 

x

x

x

x

x

x

Verbal Reasoning

 

 

x

x

x

x

x

x

Vocabulary

 

 

 

x

x

x

x

x

Math Achievement

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

Quantitative Reasoning

 

 

x

x

x

x

x

x

Algebra 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

x

 

A4. Is the test the same at all grade levels and administered in the same way?

Students in Grades 1 and 2 take the test under un-timed conditions and mark their answers in the test booklet. Students in Grade 3 mark their answers in a test booklet, but they begin to work under generously timed conditions. Students in the upper grades take CTP under those same generous timed conditions and mark their answers on a separate answer sheet.

A5. What is the best way to view CTP 4 trends?

The scores of CTP 4 are more than accurate enough to be useful, but no test measures perfectly. Test scores are subject to error… in part because many factors may affect a student’s test performance. Moreover, test questions are merely samples of all the questions that might be asked about a particular subject. Therefore, the greater the body of work that is being assessed, the more accurate the assessment will be. Accordingly, several consecutive years of test results usually provide a better estimate of a student’s knowledge and abilities than scores obtained in a single year. While one year’s results may suggest things worth investigating, they will not necessarily tell the whole story. That is why ERB recommends that test results be considered in combination with teacher appraisals of other work being done by students in the course of the school year. Only when information from a variety of sources is assembled can one begin to appreciate the myriad of abilities, traits, and qualities each child has.

B1. Purpose of Achievement Tests

These achievement tests are taken by many classical Christian schools in the United States and by a significant number of independent schools, such as college-preparatory schools. The tests are designed to provide comparisons to like-schools on the basic skills that these schools have in common. The results are one tool we use to evaluate how well our curriculum is working, with the resulting implications for curriculum planning and staff development. Secondarily, we use the results to gather more information on individual student progress over time. These scores are just one piece of information about your child’s performance and are only useful in the context of looking at your child’s class work, ongoing classroom assessments, and teachers’ observations.

B2. Preparing to take the CTP 4

This is a low stakes test that is given to determine what your child knows and can do at the time of testing. The tests help to identify strengths and weaknesses in achievement, so there is no need for outside preparation. We do not normally work with these kinds of questions and format and we definitely do not teach to the test, but we do practice before hand and we do talk about strategies for taking multiple choice tests. ERB provides the school with sample tests, to be used for practice during the week before the actual testing takes place, so that the students become familiar with the format of the tests. These have always proven to be helpful. In addition to the school’s preparation, here are some tips that will help your child be prepared on tests days.

  1. Get a good night’s sleep.
  2. Eat a healthy breakfast including protein.
  3. Avoid any family confrontations the mornings of the tests.>   Many times a child’s emotional state of mind impacts how he responds on the tests.
  4. Limit the TV, video games, and computer time during the week.
  5. If weather permits, get lots of sunshine and exercise, there is minimal homework.
  6. Encourage your child to approach the tests in a relaxed, confident manner.

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B3. Problems to avoid before testing days

Anxiety is the number one concern related to test-taking of any kind. The best way to help you and your child is to remember that this is a low-stakes test. We need to encourage all of the students to do their best, but it is not necessary to give them the unneeded burden of high performance. As students begin to see that the adults are not stressed, then anxiety is often overcome by a sense of well-being. It is helpful to emphasize with your child that there is no homework through the testing days. That generally relieves a lot of pressure.

We also become anxious because we feel our child is not a good test-taker. The good thing to know is that there is no “test-taking gene” that your student has missed out on. But the reality is that some students tend to experience a higher degree of anxiety and have trouble focusing in these long periods of testing. The best thing you can do for your child is to relax and let him/her know that they should just do their best and not worry about the questions.

There are some accommodations we can make if psychological testing has indicated the need. You need to take the responsibility of talking to the Division Head about your child’s special needs. We want to allow each child the optimal testing environment for his/her success.

B4. Protocols for Testing Days

Attendance:   All students need to attend on testing days. Keeping your child home is not a good idea because you lose valuable information about your child and his/her progress through the years. These tests are not used as criteria for placement in the next grade and by the time they graduate from high school, no one even asks about their scores. Also make plans to arrive on time so as not to interrupt testing that has already begun. Students who arrive very late will not be allowed in the classroom until the test that is being taken is complete.

Illness: If you child is ill, please keep him/her home, he/she would not perform well anyway. Make-up sessions for students who miss are scheduled within a couple of days of the end of testing. If your child has an extended illness or misses the make-up sessions, his/her test results will show only the tests he/she took. 

Appointments: Please make every effort not to schedule doctors, dentists, or orthodontic appointments during testing times. Even though make-up sessions are scheduled, the coming and going of students adds to your child’s own anxiety and disrupts the testing process in the class. If there are any problems, please inform the office or the teacher as soon as possible.

Testing schedules: In the Middle School tests are only given in the morning between 7:45 and lunch time. Sometimes a class is skipped for that day and sometimes the students attendance in class serves as a natural diversion from the testing. All of these things depend on the regular classroom schedule. Completion of the achievement tests is the first priority that week. In all cases your Division Head can give you information about test schedules for the divisions.

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