Why some students find Standardized tests easy, while others label them hard? How about your class?
Do your students find standardized tests confusing, or do they find them surprisingly interesting?
Are standardized tests tough, or are they easy?
Here, at PracTutor, we foster the mindset that scores are just a reflection of how our students approached learning throughout the year. If students have been reflective about their everyday learning, studied as per the standards, and have practiced enough – scoring on standardized tests is easy.
Students who score in classroom tests, without doubt, score on the end-of-year tests too.
Howbeit, we have to admit, there are students who find standardized tests difficult, and struggle to rack up a good score. In the following article, we share a three step guide to ensure that your students score on standardized tests.
3 Step guide to ensure your students score on standardized tests
Personalize the way your students learn
You know your class – it’s a bundle of diversity. Some students find algebra interesting, and some geometry. Students on the front seat love measurement, while a student at the back hates numbers. One student may find it easy to establish the relationship between texts, while another might love making logical inferences.
To keep it short, students have different skills, and they have preferences about how they want to learn. Standardized tests don’t consider this diversity.
They are a tool to measure the holistic development of students, to map their performance across the standards, and to tell whether your students meet expectations or not.
How to ensure that students excel across the domains?
First, try to identify the strengths and the weaknesses of your class. Find out what they know, what they love, and what they dislike. Learn about their interests, and disinterests.
Next, modify your instruction to personalize their learning path. Let them choose the concepts, while ensuring that they do not neglect any of the domains. Consider student-views, while selecting standards for the next week’s class.
Moreover, start analyzing student performance regularly; learn about the questions they are good with, and learn about their weaknesses. This would help you nail the standards and the questions your class struggles with.
Personalization would help you know your students better, thus providing you the opportunity to create a map for student success.
Use a variety of questions in your class
Standardized tests are not multiple-choice tests. They are more. In addition to the traditional item-types, they have
Multiple choice with one or more correct answers
Multipart questions that build on each other, and
Modified computer-based items
Teaching as per the core concepts won’t be enough, you must teach students how to develop answers. Although fun, if your students are unfamiliar with an item-type, they would find the question strenuous.
You need to teach your students how to express their solutions and answers.
How to ensure that students are well-aware of the item-types
Practice is the only solution, and you need to introduce your students to the variety of item-types in a standardized test.
Consortiums like PARCC, SBAC and ACT have created sample-tests for teachers and students. You should take these tests, and modify your lesson plans accordingly. In addition, you should encourage your students to take these sample tests. Just like teachers, students too can log in, and take these tests.
Additionally, plenty of websites offer online tests based on various standardized test formats. Here, students can create an account, practice, access progress, and monitor their growth. Moreover, few websites give teachers the options to connect with the student, and their learning experience.
Promote problem solving, analysis and evidence-based learning
Questions with real-life contexts dominate the new standardized tests. They check students for their understanding of the core concepts, and test their skill of making connections between concepts.
Students would need to draw upon various concepts simultaneously, identify patterns and investigate problems to prove that they can apply themselves to solve real-world problems.
How can students develop problem solving skills?
Problem solving is a strenuous task. First, you must teach your students how to stay patient and be persistent in their approach. You would need to provide students with enough opportunities to solve problems, and be creative. Most importantly, you need to, continuously, challenge them with tasks that give a chance to think about the core concepts, and develop solutions.
As per Wade (1995), effective problem solving needs the skills of asking questions, defining a problem, examining evidence, analyzing assumptions and biases, avoiding emotional reasoning, avoiding oversimplification, considering other interpretations, and must learn to tolerate ambiguity.
In short, you need to
Provide your students the opportunity to solve problems;
Promote practice, and introduce them to the various item-types, and
Mostly importantly, personalize your classroom.
What is your approach towards standardized tests? Do share your experience with us. We’d love to know.