Springtime Sheltering at STS

Thoughts from our Managing Editor and new Homeschool Administrator Traci Johnson.

Hello STS customers and friends:

Like many of you, STS employees are sheltering in place at home with our families while we deal with the Covid-19 virus. In my case, I’m an editor and a brand new homeschool administrator for a 6, 11, and 15 year old.  Here are a few of the things that are helping me juggle work and school right now.

  • Create a brand new schedule. I am 4 weeks into the work/school juggling act. In the beginning I had a grand ideas of the kids waking up at seven-thirty and being done with their work by noon. All that got me was three grumpy kids. So we adjusted. My kids have their weekend bedtimes unless they have an early meeting with a teacher.  We also allow them to linger in their pjs in the morning.  They are much happier and it gives me time to focus (alone) on my work in the morning.
  • Create some accountability (and make it fun).  Our district has an online grading system where parents can view grades and assignments. I also have my kids keep an informal log of what they did each day. If they make it through the week without me hounding them about assignments, they get a reward. My kids like Chipotle and Starbucks so they get to place an order weekly.
  • Go outside. We live in the Chicago area and last week was our first 80 degree day. I told my 6 year old to read outside and then she spent the rest of the day happily playing in the yard.  All of us walk, ride a bike or ride a scooter outdoors every day. Because we’re stuck inside most of the time, that outside time has become a welcome release.
  • Find some help online. My older kids have regimented school assignments and meeting times, but my little one has tons of free time. Finding websites that offer her something to do has been a godsend. Attractions like the Shedd Aquarium offer virtual tours. My daughter has also done virtual safaris with the Cincinnati zoo. Some zoos even offer live feeding sessions on Facebook. Scholastic.com also has free learning resources for all grade levels that include books and videos.
  • Have fun. The Corona virus is awful and sheltering in place is not how any of us planned to spend the spring. But I’ve found that it is important to plan some fun for your family. We’ve done movie nights, game nights, lip sync challenges, formal dinners. Anything to break up the monotony of quarantine. We don’t do this every day – parents are not camp counselors and kids do want some alone time. But we will never spend this much time together again so we want our kids to have some good memories of this tough time.
  • It’s OK if you’re struggling. Actor Drew Barrymore said on the Today show that Corona parenting is not good days and bad days. It’s good hours and bad hours. That rang true for me. This is hard. Kids get bored. Parents and teachers are stretched thin. We’re all new at this quarantine thing. Last week my youngest daughter had movie day and watched Trolls all afternoon. Every day will not be equally productive.

So while the world is a lot quieter these days, all of us at STS are working hard at home. Call us if you need us. We’re still answering the phones and happy to assist you however we can.

Traci Johnson
Managing Editor
Scholastic Testing Service, Inc.

We invite feedback or sharing of your own ideas and experiences on this topic.

Helpful HSPT Tips for Parents

The High School Placement Test (HSPT®) is in full swing right now with eighth graders testing to determine student admission, placement and scholarship awards based on HSPT performance. So as a parent, how can you help prepare your child for a successful testing experience?

First make sure the child gets a restful night’s sleep. Also, make sure the child has a healthy breakfast in the morning. This will help the child be more energetic and productive during the 2.5 hours of HSPT test administration.

Before you send your child into the high school for the HSPT, remind them of the following:
1. Read the directions and each question carefully.
2. Pace yourself. Time limits are set for each subtest. The test administrator will      announce the halfway point of each subtest.
3. Answer every question. If you are unsure of an answer, take your best guess. There is no penalty for answering incorrectly.
4. Check your work. If time permits, go back and review your answers.

Now that the HSPT is complete, take your child out for an ice cream sundae. They deserve it!

A Parent’s Guide to HSPT

At Scholastic Testing Service, we realize that testing is an issue of great concern to most parents. From September to March every year, we receive inquiries from parents of students who are about to, or have already taken the High School Placement Test (HSPT®). Generally, the issues of greatest concern are test preparation and scoring. The following links provide additional information on those topics.

Questions relating to:
HSPT® Prep
HSPT® Score Distribution

You can also ask a question in the form of a comment here, and we will get back to you.

Distribution of HSPT® Scores

At this time of year, many 8th graders and their families are making final decisions about which high school they will attend for the following school year. If your prospective high school uses the HSPT® as a part of their admissions process, then making sure your HSPT® scores get where they need to be is a big concern.
While many assume that the HSPT® score distribution system is similar to college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT, it is actually quite different. There is no national coding system for the HSPT®. Many high schools test independently, so the results for the students that test there are sent only to that location. In some geographic regions, a cooperative of high schools test collectively, often under the direction of a Catholic diocesan education department. In these cases, students may be presented with the option of sending their scores to several different high schools by coding them on their answer sheet on test day.
Whether your high school tests individually or cooperatively, the distribution of test results to students and their families is always determined by the school or diocese.
If you have not yet received a copy of your test scores, and you believe you should have, or if you need to have your scores sent to another high school, the first step is always to contact the high school where you or your student tested. Because the schools and dioceses determine their own score distribution systems, we can never send results to a student unless the request is made by the school or diocese that administered the test to the student.
STS congratulates all graduating 8th graders on the upcoming completion of their elementary education and wishes them the best of luck as they embark on the adventure of an enriching high school education at any one of the excellent high schools that utilize the HSPT® as a part of their admissions process.

In Memory of Dr. John D. Kauffman


The Scholastic Testing Service family is mourning the recent loss of Dr. John D. Kauffman.  John began his journey at STS in 1974 and was serving most recently as our Vice-President of Marketing. During his time at STS, his efforts helped products like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking and the High School Placement Test become bestsellers.

John was known nationally and abroad as an advocate for gifted education and an expert in creativity assessments. He tirelessly promoted the Torrance Tests by co-sponsoring creative competitions; engaging in long-term research studies; and teaching scoring workshops.  John’s scoring workshops were always in great demand because he knew how to combine his expertise and sense of humor to insure that his sessions were as much fun as his whimsical neckties.

John also had great relationships with the administrators and admissions directors who used HSPT. He loved to travel across the country to meet personally with administrators, and was always responsive to their needs and concerns.

Dr. Kauffman will no longer be answering the phones here at Scholastic Testing Service. But his presence will remain with us. In his honor, we will continue our commitment to gifted education and assessments, and every customer will receive the personal service that he insisted upon.

Back to School Daze

If you’re an educator and you know the old song lyric, School Days, School Daze, dear old golden rule days, you may agree that the beginning of the school year feels like a daze. That daze may be due to the demands of the 21st century classroom.

Schools have been inundated with technology, and teachers are continually challenged with figuring out how to use that technology to enhance learning. If you teach in a district with one-to-one laptops, you’re required to create computer-friendly lessons. If you’re in a BYOD (bring your own device) district, you have to be concerned with how students are using personal devices when they are not involved in educational activities. In addition, staff development time for learning how and where to use the technology is challenging, and the resources may be limited.

Most educators are also grappling with the rollout of the national Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Existing curriculum must be adjusted to match the new standards, or   new curriculum must be mastered – despite limited time given to learn it.  All of these changes add to the stress of starting a new school year.

Here at STS we’re currently developing tests to match the CCSS. But we’re also continuing to use standards from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Coalition (STEM) standards as we look ahead to the integration of all of the standards in use today. Our goal is to insure that our products accurately reflect the curriculum needs of the 21st century classroom.

We’re also offering an array of online testing options to accommodate the greater use of technology in schools. For grades 3-8, STS offers the new online Learning Standards Assessment (LSA) in Language, Math and Science. The LSA offers quick testing and instant scoring as well as maximum flexibility. We also offer an online version of our bestselling High School Placement Test. The HSPT® E-Score takes the place of an answer sheet and allows for quick scoring and convenient make-up testing.

In the midst of your hectic school year, rest assured that our attention to your ever-changing needs will help provide you with the very best educational products for your classroom.


The Relationship Between the HSPT® and Other Standardized Tests

Parents and teachers often ask how well HSPT® compares with other eighth grade standardized tests. In many validity studies, the correlations between HSPT® and other standardized tests such as the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, Stanford Achievement Test and the STS EDSeries are very high – in the 0.70s to 0.80s, where 1.00 is perfect. The usual interpretation for these high correlations is that the HSPT® is measuring the same content as these other tests. However, at times HSPT® scores may in fact be lower than the elementary and middle school standardized test scores. The lower HSPT® scores seem to be related to differences in the norming population. The HSPT® norms are based on student populations that intend to complete high school and continue on to either two or four year college. But the typical standardized test is normed on a sample representing the entire grade population, about 1/4 to 1/3 of whom will not graduate from high school.

We are also asked how the tests students take in high school compare with the HSPT®. Once again, when we have conducted validity studies, the correlations among the HSPT®, PSAT, SAT, and ACT are quite high, even though the tests are taken two or more years later. The correlations are typically in the high 0.70s to high 0.80s. When other standardized high school achievement batteries are compared with HSPT®, the correlations are also as high. The interpretation of these correlations is that the tests are measuring much of the same or the same content.

Throughout our long history, we have routinely conducted comparisons with other tests to ensure that our data show the same kind of quality and predictive validity so that customers can continue to rely on HSPT® for placement, remediation, and scholarships.

If you have further questions, please let us know so we may assist you in further understanding of HSPT® results.

Related: HSPT® Interpretive Manual (download) This manual is included witha school’s reports. it is a guide to understanding HSPT® scores and drawing conclusions about student performance.

A Good Education is the Best Preparation for HSPT®

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

HSPT® Prep: A Superintendent’s Response to an HSPT® Test Prep Provider

As you may know, STS does not support or endorse any formal student test preparation for the High School Placement Test. This view is also shared by many of the schools who use HSPT® every year. See below for a clearly articulated view of HSPT® test preparation from a superintendent.

Dear Test Prep Provider,

I received a copy of your flyer from one of our principals.  The Catholic High School administrators and I have discussed your test prep program on several occasions over the past few years.

It has been my understanding from Dr. John Kauffman, STS, that he neither endorses nor recommends that students from Catholic elementary schools take a test prep course for the HSPT®.  Dr. Kauffmann believes that 8 or 9 years of Catholic school education is all that is necessary for students to do well on the HSPT®.  As a matter of fact, all of the qualified 8th grade students in our Catholic elementary schools are accepted into one of our Catholic high schools.

Additionally, I am concerned about the message this sends to our parents. Your message implies that the investment they have made in their child’s Catholic elementary school education now needs augmenting in order to get into a Catholic high school. Parents and students are anxious enough about the prospect of going to high school.  It appears to me that your HSPT® prep program is feeding on their anxiety and creating a need where none exists.

I suspect that you are well intended.  However, I will discourage our elementary school principals from offering, supporting, or endorsing your test prep program to our eighth grade students and their parents.

Sincerely yours,
Ms. Maureen Huntington
Superintendent of Catholic Schools
Archdiocese of San Francisco


With the beginning of a new year, many parents may be wondering about their child’s HSPT® results. While many assume that the HSPT® score distribution system is similar to college entrance exams, it is actually quite different because there is no national coding system for the HSPT®.

Many high schools test independently, so the results for the students that test there are sent only to that school. In some geographic regions, a cooperative of high schools test collectively, often under the direction of a Catholic diocesan education department. In these cases, students may be presented with the option of sending their scores to several different high schools by coding them on their answer sheet on that test day. These answer sheets need to be correctly coded to ensure that the results are sent to the appropriate school(s).

When testing in a cooperative program, the scoring of test results is often delayed until all of the program’s answer sheets are in. When the STS Scoring Center has completed the scoring, results are then sent back to the school where the child tested as well as to the school(s) the child coded. Whether the school tests individually or cooperatively, the act of distributing test results to students and their families are always determined by the school or diocese. Therefore,  results are often not sent directly to the student’s home.

If you have not yet received a copy of your test results and you believe you should have or if you need to have your scores sent to another high school, the first step is to contact the school where the child tested. Since the schools and dioceses determine their own score distribution system, we cannot send results to a student or parent.