Making Sense of Your Child’s Data: A Personal Perspective (from our Guest Writer Amy Winslow)

I raised two children in a fairly sleepy California town that prides itself on its educational roots -- home to a respected state university and a school district that boasts community involvement, dedicated teachers and high-achieving students. It is one of the primary reasons we moved here 18 years ago.  I am grateful that my children experienced gardening, classical music, foreign language and sports within their schools.

One thing they did not escape were the many hours of standardized testing that has become such a large part of our system. As a parent, I heeded the call to get them to bed early, and to provide a decent breakfast. Beyond that, however, the testing and the results I received weeks later in the mail had little to no effect on our family’s educational experience.

According to a Washington Post Study, the average kid in the US takes 112 standardized tests by the time they leave high school. That's eight per year, and doesn't even include the PSAT, SAT, or ACT, and the often substantial hours spent prepping for those college entrance exams. Understanding how my children were doing academically was daunting. Every time I received a generic report, I would wonder: What does the 75th percentile mean? Is above average ‘good'? What do I do with this information? Invariably, I would spend some time studying over the figures and then file the report -- literally and figuratively.

I joined the Spotlight team looking through this personal lens of a parent. As an employee, I am in awe of the vision and technical expertise that has developed this tool to deliver personalized reports and videos in virtually any language. As a parent, I appreciate the real-world application to help people like me decipher the download of information we receive that we often don't understand or know how to apply to help our children. Whether that means translating standardized test scores, or helping my child navigate college opportunities, making sense of educational data is an invaluable part of any parenting toolkit. I am proud to play some small role in providing that to other families.