Exam Preparation for Students, Parents and Teachers
With March and exam season upon us I want to share some tips that can help your student/child do well on state and national exams as well as learn more at school every day. In reality, the really “big” tests check for student growth over time (as seen when comparing year by year scores), compare each student with every other child who took the same test on the same day, provide assessment data for teachers to note how their instruction is meeting and exceeding learning expectations as well as areas that require modification and improvement, and inform the school and district with an overview of just how all of the students are scoring based on what teachers are teaching and how this matches other schools in your state. It is vital data when student, parent, and teacher know and understand the standards, the types of test questions used, and how to analyze and evaluate overall performance. Without study, the score is just another number.
I have been tutoring several high school juniors and seniors who have passed some but not all sections of the high school proficiency exams. Working with each student has provided me with insight and feedback, information that can make a difference for every child. Comments include stretched nerves, teacher misdirection, student recall and understanding based on excellent and most often hands-on instruction, and parents who help children succeed.
Kids get nervous before tests, especially when anxiety is raging in the classroom, hallway, school, and on into home. While it is very important to pass, passing becomes difficult with excess fretfulness and stress piled aboard. It is essential to let students know that expectations are high and it is also crucial to reassure students who have worked hard, studied, and prepared for the exam that they will perform well. Some kids are more nervous than others, some do not care in the least, but an overall atmosphere of calm benefits everyone.
One nerve-racking testing mandate is that students transfer from their regular classroom to a specified testing site. This may mean that three lower grade teachers exchange rooms for the test period, that students meet in pre-arranged alphabetically ordered lists to a variety of classrooms or are grouped by who is re-testing on what portions or all of the test, as in the high school setting. Most schools divide into testing days: reading Monday, science Tuesday and so forth. This alleviates test overload to a certain degree. One problem with reconfiguration includes that it is a not familiar arena. Some students are sidetracked by a new voice, different environment, or variation in how instructions are given. For example, one of my students always reads the questions first and then returns to read the passage, a strategy that serves her well as she highlights key words in questions so that as she reads and locates ideas and information, she can immediately head for that question. Her proctor, however, announced clearly that students were to “Read the passage first!” My student is reserved and not one to make waves and so she hesitated to ask about utilizing her method. She did as told and read first and completed the questions next. Afterward she shared that she felt confident about how she had performed but hoped that changing her routine had had no ill effect on her results.
Another student had been busily preparing to retake the science portion. As we studied together it was evident when his class instruction had included a particular topic, concept, or activity. He glanced at the test question and recognized familiar grids, graphs, and illustrations and often knew the answer before we completed reading the question. His background knowledge was strong and he was so confident in his knowledge. When he hit rough spots on the test these inevitably indicated items and concepts that he had never been taught and so every word and phrase introduced new material. Strategies were employed, but with greater difficulty as his knowledge base was inadequate. The power of excellent instructors who teach with thoroughness and personal accountability is beyond compare. Other student-identified techniques of gifted teachers: oral practice and repetition, catch phrases, songs and poems, hands-on activities, and teaching with full-on student and teacher engagement.
Parents, please read daily with your child, ask probing questions and expect organize field trips, and write about everything you see and do. Each activity will expand intellect exponentially. Come visit our website to read more about our Chemistry tutoring.