Students for Tests
Good Assessment Strategies
by Pearson Education Development Group.
The words "assessment" and "testing" are often enough
to send goose bumps up the arms of many students and teachers. By learning
a few assessment strategies, however, you can help your students through
even the most anxious moments and help them score higher in the process.
Assessment tools, which only measure a student’s knowledge at a given time,
are of three main types: observations, portfolios and tests. Here’s a quick
| Assessment Tool
| Basic Description
||Teacher observes students’
performance during specific activities.
||Students revise and refine
their work before choosing to save it in portfolios.
||Testing usually has a time
limit; students have little opportunity to revise.
Observations and portfolios are often called "performance"
or "authentic" assessment. Proponents of these assessment types
believe these tools are most valuable because they not only test students’
ability to recall material, but also provide information about how students
use that knowledge. The proponents point out that performance-based assessment
more accurately evaluates higher-order thinking skills, such as analysis,
synthesis, interpretation and evaluation.
Today’s educators know that tests, especially standardized tests, are being
used more than ever to validate students’ learning. In many cases these
tests also evaluate the teachers themselves. This is especially true now
that state and national standards are so strongly embraced. And, indeed,
standardized tests are subjected to rigorous screenings to ensure validity
and reliability. In addition, they do facilitate comparisons among students
There is no question that standardized tests are here to stay. Take a look
at the following strategies that can help you and your students prepare
for them. Then choose those that seem best suited for your classroom and
incorporate them into the curriculum. Remember to use the following strategies
not just immediately before a test, but as ongoing elements that are interwoven
into your daily routine:
Remember: There is a difference between test practice
and test preparation. Test practice is simply drill based on previous tests.
Test preparation provides students with strategies that will enable them
to focus on content and not become frustrated with unfamiliar formats and
situations. These strategies can help your students improve their performance
on tests and their comfort level with assessment in general. Try them and
see which ones work best for you and your students.
- Before students read a passage, encourage them
to read the questions that follow. Doing this will help them focus on
important parts of the passage. Then as they read, they can lightly
underline content that might be useful in answering the questions.
- Encourage students to find support for their answers
in the passage, as well as from any relevant experiences of their own.
- When working through material with students, ask
them for the same information in a variety of ways. Examples: What
do you think will happen? What do you think the result will be?
Too often, students have difficulty answering questions because they
are unfamiliar with a test’s wording.
- After reading a passage, students can write their
own questions to share with one another. This activity can help students
better understand the relationship between questions and accompanying
passages. Try this activity with cloze-format sentences, as well.
- Provide students with many opportunities to make
estimations. Practicing estimation can help students quickly evaluate
their answers to mathematical questions on standardized tests.
- Have students create their own word problems using
data other than those in their math lessons. For example, you might
have them draw on mathematical information they find in a current-events
article, a weather report, or a social studies assignment. This activity
can not only help students transfer skills they learned in math to other
content areas but also help them approach word problems with more confidence.
- As students take a test, encourage them to circle
or jot down the numbers of the items they are unsure of. When they’re
finished with the test, encourage them to go back over just the questions
they circled or noted. Too often, students don’t actually go back and
check their work because they’re tired and just can’t face "retaking"
the whole test.
- After a test, discuss as a group why answers are
correct or incorrect.
- Bubble answer sheets have come to be associated
with standardized tests and this association can create fear and uneasiness
in some students. To help students overcome this negative association,
use the bubbles for activities other than tests. For example, each morning
attach a class list on the bulletin board. Next to each name on the
list include one or more bubbles. Have students fill in the bubbles
to indicate their attendance or choice of lunch.