The reason I started down this speed testing path, is I wasn't getting the results I wanted on paper. And that was by shooting at box speed and developing according to the manufacture's directions. I really didn't want to test, but by testing, I'd hoped to arrive at a standardized set of actions, from exposure to print. By standardizing my workflow, my hope was that I could find out where I was going wrong. It could be that shooting at box speed isn't my issue. It could be my metering technique, my developing time, my enlarger, my camera's shutter, etc.
Like many people starting out, I'm clueless. I'm not in a position to critically evaluate testing methods, which there doesn't seem to be a shortage of. Some methods use a densitometer, some don't. There's the test for zone I or zone III debate. People recommend changing the shutter only, changing the aperture only, changing ISO only, during the test. Shoot a gray card, shoot a wall, shoot a real scene, shoot a set of props, etc. Test at one stop, 1/2 stop or 1/3rd stop gradations. And so on.......
One of the positive consequences of all this variety, is that it's forced me to continue studying and I'm starting to slowly understand some of this stuff.
In the end, I think we all come up with our own methodology for testing, conscious or not. Repetition, practice, testing, whatever you want to call it, it leads to the same end, our personal understanding.
Everyone who has contributed to this thread has helped me. I'm not just saying that. I've discovered I already have a consistent workflow based on factory recommendations, with the exception of printing. A speed test isn't probably where I need to start. I think the most valuable thing for me at this time would be to find my "maximum black" print time, so I have a baseline in which to evaluate, how my negatives print. I just came to that realization today.
Now having said that, I shot my first rolls of speed test shots yesterday, so I'm going forward with testing anyway. I'm sure I'll learn something along the way.
I'll close with a couple reads I found interesting:
On this website http://www.barrythornton.com/ go to "technique guide" and choose "The NoZone System." This seems like a good way for ongoing evaluation and tweaking. If someone sees any glaring holes in this article, please let me know.
And this article, http://www.davidkachel.com/historical/calibrat.htm made me aware of variables I hadn't even considered effecting results.
Thanks everyone for your help!