How do you raise (state) test scores of your students? I've been hearing a lot about how this school raised their scores and how that school raised their scores...but I never hear how they did it. What are your strategies/suggestions/practices for getting higher or good test scores from your students? Thanks, De'Anna
We offer tutoring after school for an hour, two days a week for our lowest performing students. We bring in parent volunteers to read with our students and we use a program called Classworks in our computer lab.
I agree that it must be a school wide goal because it takes everyone!
I agree wholeheartedly with the previous posts. I was amazed that my own students' test scores also went up last year, because that was the most difficult group I've had in all of my long teaching career!
During our one-on-one meeting with the principal to review test scores for my last group and set new goals for the current group, I was asked what I did to help them all increase their test scores. I told her that, despite the constant discipline interruptions, I focused on teaching with and having students use academic language as well as higher level questioning (Bloom's Taxonomy). This was especially the case when working on developing reading comprehension. I also made sure I was consistent with teaching general test taking strategies.
I work in a low socio-economic area where most students speak Spanish in the home, so I worked extensively on vocabulary development which included work with multiple meaning words, prefixes and suffixes, Greek and Latin root words, teaching and using figurative language such as similes, metaphors, and idioms. I suppose it all boiled down to focusing on helping my students learn how to find word meanings from word parts in order to gain better reading comprehension.
I found many useful posts here on ProTeacher as well! As a matter of fact, your post reminded me that I started up a 'scrapbook' of PT posts for 'Test Prep' ideas. Right after I read your question, I went to make the collection 'public', so I think you should be able to find it in the 'Collections'. I think it's important that we start now and continue building on what we are doing throughout the school year so that students truly will be fully prepared and confident that they have done all they could to succeed.
I used internet resources extensively, as well. Here is one that I found useful:
For the reading test I teach my students to read the questions first. Then as they read the story they know what information they are looking for. If they see an answer I teach them to underline it. When they have finished reading the story then they have to read the questions again. I make them go back to the text to find the answer. They have to read all four responses and cross off those that they know are not correct and then select the best answer and mark it. Then, next to the question, I make them write the paragraph # where they found the answer. In our test the paragraphs are numbered, but students could learn to do that too. This information also has to be underlined in the paragraph. It is a great deal of work and takes time, but it works because of all the rereading and searching. Our test is not timed so they can work as long as they need to.
I use the analogy of detectives with my students. I tell them that a good detective always checks his or her fact several times. If that means rereading or checking more than once for proof. that's O.K. I do a great deal of modeling this procedure with them, using sample test stories. Then I let them try one story on their own, then two, then three and finally one whole test of four stories about a week before the test. We go over their mistakes, most of the time in small groups.
In math I think the most difficult part is word problems and figuring out what operation needs to be done to solve it. We practice problem solving all year to prepare. I really emphasize the key words and phrases that mean add, subtract, multiply and divide. Vocabulary is important. The second thing that I think makes it difficult for the child is that the test is a mixed review. They have to do an addition problem, then division, then geometry, then number line , then subtraction..... You get the idea. That means their mind has to keep switching gears. In class we don't teach that way. We focus on multiplication for a couple of weeks, then geometry for a couple, then measurement for a couple, until we have taught all our units. That way of teaching is needed for the new material we have to teach, but at the same time we need to constantly be reviewing what they have already learned.
I teach math for an hour and a half each day. I spend an hour on my focused lesson or unit for that week. Then I spend a half hour on math fluency. We do a mixed review sheet each day so they learn to switch gears like they have to on the test. We also do timed tests on facts, review different types of problem solving, telling time, measurement, geometry vocabulary and anything else we have already learned.
When I started doing math fluency with my students I started seeing higher math scores on the state test.
I had to figure out where the direct link might be, and I finally found it. At the top right of this page click on 'Archive' on the blue bar. That should take you to the page of all the public collections.
FYI, for those who might not know:
You can create your own scrapbook collection of links you want to keep as a reference. (Click on scrapbook icon at the top right of the page to the left of the search box.) You can keep it just as a scrapbook or group them as a collection, which you can make public to share with members.
PT member, teachnmomma, excitedly posted about attending a Larry Bell presentation. In that post she explained an acronym for a test taking strategy he recommends.
I took her information and made some page-sized posters for my students. I still haven't used them, since I've only learned about him through PT and through whatever I tracked down on the net, but I think I'm going to start implementing his suggestions now that our first quarter break is over.
Just in case anyone else can use these, I'm posting the two pages as an attachment, here.
You've all raised some good points. I think one of my weaknesses is not teaching math problem solving more. I need to double the amount of time I spend on that. They know how to compute, but I think they get lost in understanding what the question is asking. Especially my ELL kids. Thanks for your time and expertise. De'Anna