Wednesday, May 6, 2015

How Including the Kids in Planning for Test Prep Keeps Us All {a LIttle} More Sane

It's that time of the year again! At least ours really is at the end of the year. In North Carolina, we test at the end of Memorial Day week. Grades 5 and 8 have an additional test for science the week after. When we're done, we're pretty much done.

I've believed for a while that the kids should be a part of figuring out what they need to work on and have some choice in how they learn the skills. To do that, though, we need to keep up with data. Notice that I said 'we' and not 'I'. It's a team effort. We make those decisions based on numbers, not, "Well, I like..." because sometimes what you like doesn't produce results. A lot of the time it does, though.

This year, I used Blair Turner's CCSS Data Tracking Binder for Fifth Grade, which you can find here. On my state DPI's website, we found a breakdown of how many questions will come from each standard. I used the blank page from the binder to create a list of standards in order from the most-on-the-test to the least. Then, the kids colored in their mastery data we've gathered through the year.

This has helped the kids plan their independent work time. They go down the list and work on standards that have less than 80% mastery. They have a number of practice options on a menu and take the quiz when they feel ready. They add their new achievement levels to their charts (which is why some are multicolored) and move down the list.

I think it's helping give my students some sense of control over being prepared. We still do whole-group scoots or work with Coach books, you know, the standard test-prep. stuff to practice all of the standards, but what I'm hearing is that they feel like they're using their time more wisely and really working to address their needs, and not stuck with things they can already do. 

We'll see when scores get back in the first week of June. ;) 

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