Thursday, October 8, 2009

5 Ways to Improve Student Test Performance

The question I seem to get from a lot of people these days is...

How can I improve my student's test performance?

The answer to this question can be quite complex and many issues may be out of the educator's control (home environment, socio-economic status, cognitive ability, specific learning disabilities, etc.), but I have tried to comprise a list that any educator can use to optimize their student's test performance.

So here are 5 great ways to improve your student's test performance:

1. Provide the best possible testing environment.

The environment should be such that participants can concentrate on their assessments with minimal distractions. Considerations regarding the testing environment include:
o Consistent/adequate lighting levels.
o Temperature at a comfortable level with proper ventilation.
o Space is quiet with minimal distractions.
o Participants should be asked to behave consistently (no eating, getting up and moving about).
o Avoid/delay the test administration when a participant appears hurried, troubled, or ill.

2. Adhere to the responsibilities of the Test Proctor (in a test center environment).

Testing should be "fair" to all participants (by limiting the ability to cheat and by providing accomodations to those with disabilities).
o Participant authentication: a picture ID should always be shown and login should be handled quickly and quietly by the proctor.
o Protection of the security of the online testing system. Username AND password should NEVER be revealed.
o Prohibiting the use of all communication devices (photos of test items and text messaging are common problems).
o Computer usage: Monitor whether participants are trying to access the internet or other programs.
o The proctor should be vigilant in their observance of the testing environment: Note passing, hand gestures, etc.
o Reference materials, texts, notes, etc., are not allowed in the testing area unless specifically allowed for in the exam or in a student’s Individualized Education Plan.
o If a candidate is caught cheating during an examination, testing will stop immediately. The candidate will receive a failing result and the incident will be reported.
o Students with an IEP may have special accommodations as specified in an IEP, IRP, 504, LEP, and ELL.

3. Timing is everything!

Ideally, students should be tested as soon as they have completed training and passed all skills performance evaluations. It is NOT a recommended practice to wait until the end of the academic year to test if the student is ready to test earlier.

Testing statistics prove that 70% of all certification exams are passed when students take their exams 3 to 7 days after course completion. This amount of time typically provides adequate study time and allows testing to take place while the information is still fresh. On the converse, the same statistics show over an 80% failure rate for students attempting their exam immediately after a class or if they wait more than 2 weeks after course completion.

4. Analyze test results.

Study the tests that you administer and learn to how correctly interpret the results to both students and parents. Whether it's standard scores, T scores, age- and grade-equivalent scores, or percentile ranks, know your tests and know how to explain them in a manner that is understandable and with compassion! Every student is somebody's child and all feedback should be in a positive manner. Stress the strengths during your interpretation and remediate the weaknesses by building upon the strengths.

Results should be analyzed for each individual student (relative strengths and weaknesses), for an individual instructors and for the overall program. In other words, did an instructor adequately cover the standards? Did your curriculum align to the standards? Did the program meet your needs at the local or state level?

5. Develop and implement a remediation plan.

Relative strengths and weaknesses should be the focus of your remediation plan (Your test analysis will identify these factors for you.). A student may receive a 90% score on an assessment, but they still may have an area of relative weakness and this should always be addressed. You should place as much emphasis on this as you would on some that struggled on the assessment. The goal is to maximize every student's ability!

Your remediation plan should involve more than the student. You should also analyze the test results to identify any deficiencies in instruction (Were all of the educational standards covered during instruction?) or curriculum (Did our curriculum address each of the standards?).

What about you? Have you found any other factors and tactics that seem to improve test performance?

1 comment:

  1. Strictly an exam based tip, I think it’s safe to say that active study is better than passive study in all aspects. In the same vein, the best way of doing well in an exam is to know the format of the exam papers. At the end of the day, all the exam is in an exam paper, so if you can do ten other ones and get 100%, the eleventh one should come easier to you.

    improve exam performance


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