When a student scores well on the Placement Test at the beginning of the school year and continues to work hard at Happy Numbers, it can be surprising to receive lower results on the Mid-Year Test. Yet, many teachers are finding this trend to be true of their students.

What is the cause of this discrepancy? And does it mean students are regressing in their math skills?

The good news we’re finding is that a drop from Placement Test to Mid-Year Test results does not mean a lack of math growth in almost all cases. Our research indicates one of the following explanations for this dip in test scores:

  • Everyone has a bad day now and then. It’s possible that on the day of the Mid-Year Test, a student might have been sick or otherwise “off.” Therefore, the score does not reflect the student’s true ability. In these cases, we recommend taking a break, letting students pull themselves together, and trying again. You have the option to reset the test and re-administer it at another time, which could better reflect the student’s true ability. The Reset option is available for 14 days following the first attempt.
  • The 2020-21 school year has required great adjustments for students. This might include learning remotely from home. If students took the Mid-Year Test at home, they might have been off their educational routine or distracted by household influences. While teachers hope the homeschool environment is comfortable and free of distractions, it might be best to re-administer the test in the classroom setting if that option is available.
  • Due to remote learning, and the desire to start off on the right foot, parents helped their children a lot while taking the Placement Test. It is good to see their active involvement, but in this instance, parent intervention prevented students from expressing their own potential and cognitive strength. We have added a banner above the test that asks parents not to help, and we also strongly recommend that you remind parents that the test is meant to be independent.

We have noticed a significant improvement in the Placement Test from 2019 to 2020. The graphs below show why we suspect parent involvement resulting in over-scoring:

As shown, the percentage of students who provided the right answers to all 20 questions grew from 1% in 2019 to 8% in 2020. Needless to say, the difference is significant.

Obviously, seeing students succeed on the Placement Test is great, but only if they achieve it on their own without any help. You don’t have to be afraid of poor results during the Placement Test. On the contrary, it will help set your students on the right individual pathway in the Happy Numbers curriculum.

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