Elementary School: Why Test?
The problem with No Child Left Behind was its adherence to, once-a-year testing. The good thing about NCLB was that it had a testing component. The problem with Nationally Normed tests is that they are not that accurate, when it comes to disclosing a child's reading scores. NCLB's mandated grades ended up being a highly stressed time for both the teachers and the students, and as most of us know, anything gained from terrorizing a person, is not that accurate.
Elementary teachers are trained to assess a students reading ability. In any grade school teacher's class, she will have the top readers identified as a group, middle reading and slow reading groups as well. A parent interested in finding out how well their child is reading, simply needs to find out what reading group their child is in. Determining a specific reading level is impossible, either by normed testing or by group placement. Teachers know this as do the testing companies and the companies stress this concept, which is, by-in-large, ignored by politicians who think the testing scores are an accurate assessment, comparable from year to year.
The thing about normed assessment is that their scores are used to determine a child's pre and post reading levels for Individual Educational Plans for identified groups or individuals.
I can remember when there were no yearly normed testing and the students matriculated handsomly without them. But, back in my day, students with learning problems were not identified.
Taking pressures off of teachers and students as the students are tested, can achieve more valid test results than the NCLB mandates. For sharp students, pressured or not, they will do just fine, plus or minus "bands of validity."