4 Quick Tips for Parents: Administering the Exact Path Diagnostic
As a parent, you’ve likely seen your role in your child’s education evolve and even increase since March 2020. One thing in particular that is different is how schools are navigating testing procedures when so many students are learning via hybrid and virtual models.
If your child is using Exact Path to deliver personalized, growth-focused learning, the first step is likely taking something called a diagnostic assessment. This assessment is a different type of test than what you may be used to. Just like when you take your child to the dentist and get a check-up exam and X-rays to find out what treatment might be necessary, the Exact Path diagnostic assessment checks in on what your child knows and doesn’t know to design a personalized learning path. The program assigns lessons that are just right—not too hard, not too easy—to maximize your child’s learning. Exact Path’s automatically built learning path is representative of what your child is ready to learn next.
There are four things to keep in mind about what makes the Exact Path diagnostic assessment different from other tests. Understanding these points will help your child get a prescribed learning path that is personalized!
1. Most students answer half of the questions incorrectly. That’s expected!
The purpose of the Exact Path diagnostic is to determine both what your child knows and doesn’t know. When answering questions correctly, your child will get a harder question. When answering incorrectly, your child will get an easier question. This is how the test pinpoints both what your child knows and doesn’t know. Encourage your child to try his or her best, but say that it’s OK to guess if he or she doesn’t know the answer. Occasionally, parents wonder about how difficult the test may become—if it seems like your child is encountering more difficult questions, that’s a good sign because it means that the diagnostic is challenging your child more based on the number of the questions answered correctly!
2. Have your child complete the test without help.
The Exact Path diagnostic score isn’t about earning top marks, and it’s expected that your child won’t know everything on the test. If students receive help on their diagnostic test, their learning paths might start them on material that is too hard for them. That can be frustrating for both your child and you. Revisiting the analogy from earlier, you wouldn’t want to have your dentist treat your child based on your own X-rays, and similarly, you wouldn’t want your child’s learning path to be based on what you as the parent know and can do. Additionally, it’s good to keep in mind that the test will automatically read aloud some questions as appropriate, so do not read any questions to your child. If your child is expected to read something on the test, it is designed to help the system understand what your child can read.
3. Set up a quiet, comfortable, and focused testing environment.
We know that it’s easy for students to get distracted and that those interruptions can send them into a tailspin of unfocused testing that leads to inaccurate results. Poor test performance could lead to a learning path that is too easy for your child. Provide a quiet environment that is free of distractions, and make sure that no adults, siblings, or other nearby children are helping your student. Try to use whichever technology your child is most familiar with, whether a tablet or a desktop or laptop computer. Provide breaks when your child’s attention seems to be waning, and the program will autosave the progress. Because the technology may read aloud some questions, consider providing headphones to keep the volume under control. Headphones can also help to shield your child from distractions.
4. Share with your child the reasons why the test is important.
The Exact Path diagnostic is important because the results determine your child’s unique learning path. An accurate test score means that your child will receive lessons that are just right for them—not too hard, not too easy—so that he or she can maximize learning and minimize frustration. Doing his or her most authentic work will result in getting a learning path that will be interesting and meaningful for your child.
Want to learn more about the Exact Path diagnostic test? Watch this short, four-minute video for a little added context on the behavior of this type of test, and see the parent test administration guide for more information on preparing to give the test.
This post was originally published in July 2019 and has been updated.