December test

A bit cruel to give a test during the last week of school in December, but our 15-week grading period is this week so it made sense to have another test on which to base this grade.

All of those thoughts about “teaching to the test” came back again. Even though our math department collectively wrote the assessments, they still included questions on material that I haven’t yet discussed in my class. I just told my students to skip those questions. But even on the material they should have known, students didn’t do very well again. I have to keep telling myself that it’s a process and that everyone is moving forward, even if the progress is very small.

Three more days.

One thought on “December test

  1. Your post makes me think about how test-taking is a skill in and of itself. A game that can be practiced and improved.

    In your post when you say they “should have known” the material, I am guessing that they demonstrated this to you in some context, probably different from that of the test. Maybe they have the skill, but it did not transfer to the testing situation.

    Is there a way to help build their test-taking skills directly? I see this as different from “teaching to the test.” I think of “teaching to the test” in its negative sense as altering one’s teaching in a way that values a set of skills/knowledge dictated by test writers over one’s own sense of how to make the material rich, connected and meaningful.

    I think of learning test taking skills as including things like how to approach problems that are worded in different ways, how to deal with test anxiety, how to budget time, etc.

    If your students are terrible test-takers, then it might make some sense to work on these skills directly at the same time you are building their skills in the subject area. If you are already doing this, I am interested to hear what you have tried and whether you have seen any improvement.

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