The Peabody Individual Achievement Test is an individual test of academic progress. It is used with students from kindergarten through high school to see how students compare to same-aged peers in content areas of general knowledge, math, reading recognition, reading comprehension and spelling. Ease of use and efficiency are commonly cited benefits of the PIAT, but it does have some drawbacks relative to other student achievement tests.
Ease of Use
To get clear and accurate results, it is important that a standardized test is easy to use and facilitate. The PIAT includes two kits that allow students to see question items while facilitators can see questions on one side and instructions for the test on the other. The testing process is fairly straightforward, which makes for little confusion and frustration on the part of the instructor and student.
The scores on a PIAT offer a number of practical advantages to users. Score sheets include the results from each content area as well as a total score. This allows evaluators to make decisions based on the results in individual academic areas. For instance, a student struggling with reading comprehension may receive additional time with a reading specialist. The test is especially useful for special education instructors and child therapists that work with children with mental and learning disabilities. They can use the scores to set a plan of action to bring such students up to grade-level performance.
The costs of the materials to administer and prepare for the PIAT are very expensive. According to the Pearson Education website, a complete kit that includes 50 individual test records is $475. The instruction manual used by the administrator is $135. These fees make it costly for schools on a tight budget to afford to administer the tests at all grades. It also makes it difficult for parents who want to get their child tested independently.
The Peabody test does have a number of interpretive limitations, according to National Longitudinal Surveys, a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics program. The test has limited diagnostic potential because of the small sample of questions in each skill area. Aside from the math component, the test may not reliably offer a testament to a student's academic potential in specific skill areas either. More follow-up is usually needed to assess deficiencies. Additionally, the test is given nationally, so scores are compared against others across the nation. This makes it difficult to recognize the relative differences in curriculum taught in different states and school districts.
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