I once received an irate letter from a teacher who had bought a test prep book to prepare her students for our High School Placement Test (HSPT®). The letter indicated that she’d found many errors in the test prep book as well as misstatements about HSPT® and she asked for a refund. Since STS does not endorse or publish any HSPT® test prep publications, we were unable to assist her. But her negative experience with an unauthorized book underscores the continuing problem of test prep product proliferation.
As more and more parents, students and teachers seek out test prep materials, HSPT® prep courses and books appear on the market to capitalize on this demand. But the “prep” they offer students does not come from current STS test content. We never sell the HSPT® to test preparation agencies or publishers. In fact, we have developed a new form of the HSPT® each year since 1957 in order to preserve test security and to prevent content from being available prior to the testing dates. So customers must be aware that any test prep materials available on the market have “found” content instead of actual HSPT® test item content.
The only test prep material endorsed by STS is our Pre- HSPT®. The Pre- HSPT® is an older edition of the HSPT®, which was developed with norms specifically for use in seventh grade. This test is only administered by high schools to give students experience with the test content and format, and to show which areas need to be improved upon.
Like the teachers and administrators we work with, STS is concerned about courses and products that try to teach students how to “game” the system by focusing on how to select the best answer choice. “Gaming the test” may result in artificially high scores, which can lead to students being misplaced in higher-level courses than they are actually prepared for. Artificial high scores can result in frustration and disappointment for students, their parents and their teachers.
We firmly believe that students do best on the HSPT® when the emphasis is on mastering curriculum skills, and on providing remediation if those skills are found to be lacking. Most schools already adequately prepare students to perform their best on the HSPT®. So parents and teachers are best advised to avoid expensive preparation materials, and to trust that a well-rounded education is the best form of test preparation.
John D. Kauffman, Ph.D.
Vice President, Marketing