Tests That Teach: Using Standardized Tests to Improve Instruction

Tests That Teach: Using Standardized Tests to Improve Instruction

Tests That Teach: Using Standardized Tests to Improve Instruction

Tests That Teach: Using Standardized Tests to Improve Instruction

Synopsis

Now that the No Child Left Behind Act has left its mark on public education, educators across the United States are all the more invested in preparing their students for state and national assessments. In Tests That Teach: Using Standardized Tests to Improve Instruction, Karen Tankersley guides you with proven tips and instructional strategies to help your students perform to their potential. Covering all core contents areas-language arts, social studies, math, and science-and respecting all levels of student performance, Tankersley: Examines the various types of questions that routinely appear on these assessments; Provides sample multiple-choice and constructed-response questions from the tests; Offers guidelines on how to create daily lessons that encourage students to practice the skills and demonstrate the knowledge they'll need to use on the high-stakes tests; Suggests word lists, games, discussion topics, and testing ideas for your classroom; and Describes how school staff can create a learning community that fosters collaboration among teachers and high performance in students.

Excerpt

Over the past decade, many school districts have begun to use data to analyze the academic performance of the students they serve. Schools have used data on student performance to examine how well they compare to other schools as well as to track how students are performing over time. Administrators and teachers have used data to make critical decisions about what to do and when to do it.

Effective schools use a recursive cycle of assessment and critical analysis to examine the mountains of student performance data generated year after year. They regularly collect data about their students, examine school programs and practices, scrutinize and make meaning from the data, and even establish action plans to address concerns or problems arising from their study of the data. While this beneficial process has provided a strong foundation for focused school improvement efforts and should definitely be continued, school improvement efforts cannot stop here. Schools must also examine what happens in the classroom. The missing step that reflective schools must take is to carefully analyze state standards and to look at the way tasks and questions are structured and presented on state assessments. Just as it makes a difference what content students are asked about on state tests, it makes a difference how questions are asked and what tasks students are expected to perform. For most districts, this performance gap occurs on the constructed-response sections of their state assessments. When cognitive expectations of the classroom do not match assessment measures, a disconnect occurs between instruction and . . .

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