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Student interviews
Old 12-03-2019, 04:57 PM
 
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Good evening,

Any help is appreciated.

I am going to meet with small groups of students 5th and 6th grade. They are the kids who scored the lowest on the state tests last year. The reason I want to meet with them is to show them their scores and encourage them through conversation and goal setting to help them do better.

What questions can I ask them? I will meet with them once a month to check on them and to see how they are doing.


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Old 12-03-2019, 05:27 PM
 
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I first have to ask you some questions.

What do you mean by goal setting? What kind of goals are you expecting students to set?

I suspect each student has a different story about how and why they are so low. Do they all have the capacity to really understand long-term goal setting? What you are really asking of these students is to set long term goals in an area they are probably completely lost.

Do they know the resources they will have at their disposal to actually implement and achieve the goals or are they really at the mercy of their teachers and the teaching that is provided to them? Do they know their gaps and what is needed to fill them? Do you?

Goals don't make students get better unless they really understand the problem and have a reasonable approach to follow with coaching support, especially the struggling ones or the ones who don't have that internal perseverance.

Unless you have options for them and will be supporting them through choices to help them attain their goals, I see what you are doing as thoughtful but futile. It ranks with the "try harder" suggestion when a student thinks that he is trying his hardest or really is trying his hardest but it isn't good enough.
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A few thoughts
Old 12-03-2019, 06:11 PM
 
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Do they know their scores already? If not, it might be discouraging to know that got perhaps 4 right out of 32 possible, as an example. You could say they had some problems on the test and you are wondering what kinds of things they wish they had known before taking it. What things in the testing gave them worries.

You might look into curricular knowledge, test taking skills, and reading level. It's possible that they have so much difficulty reading the material quickly that they are missing items due to lack of time due to decoding or comprehension.

You might do some coaching on test taking skills like reading the comprehension questions first and looking for the answers in the passages after.

Discussing distractors meant to "trick" them into the wrong answer because they are close to the right answer. I've posed it as a contest between the test makers and the students.

Practice tests are very useful as is giving them a chance to construct their own questions (perhaps to try out on each other) to give some insight into how tests are created and what to look for.

Ruby Payne has some good materials with some of these suggestions included.

Except for a few kids who don't care about scores because there is neither pay off nor problem for them no matter what they score, I would expect that most are doing the best they can. Are you going to give them practice tests to note any kind of improvement over time in reading skill improvement or test taking skills? I'm not sure what else you might use as a yardstick to give feedback on seeing what they are doing. Or for them to gage improvement.

If I had your assignment, I'd be at a loss to see how an hour or two each month would lead to any major changes. Regular tutoring, yes. A conversation and goal setting, IMHO unlikely.

I did standardized test tutoring and used regular meetings, lots of practice tests and deconstructing of test items and distractors, along with figuring out content and context to get some movement in those students.
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Thank you both
Old 12-03-2019, 07:46 PM
 
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Thank you both for responding and giving me valuable advice / suggestions. I have already set up small group meetings with them for tomorrow, so I will keep you posted on how these meetings go.

Perhaps I will just talk with them and see more about what support each one feels is needed to help him/her. Itís always nice when our students know that someone else is there for them and cares about their well being.

I will talk more with my colleagues and also work with these students to show them some of the contaminates on the test and help them become familiar with what the tests expects of them.

Again, I am appreciative of you both taking time to thoroughly and honestly respond.
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