What's your class average when it comes to test scores? Like most teachers, I'm sure you have a couple of "fails" a couple of low marks, some good marks, and then those with 95+.
What if I told you that my entire class scored above a 90 on all my Chumash tests last year?
HOW??!! WITH EFFECTIVE TESTING.
What is effective testing? Is every test effective?
Before I can tell you what effective testing is we need to define a test.
What is a test? A test isn’t so much the format as it’s the goal. A test “tests” see how much a student remembers and how well a student memorizes the information in order to correctly answer the questions to get a good mark. Students end up studying for hours to make sure they study every little detail, which is why they tend to forget important information.
There are ways to assess students using the traditional format, but not all students do well with a written Q & A. Quite often I have a student who is very smart and bright. During the classes, she participates and completes all of her assignments, but when the time comes for a “test”, she freezes and can’t remember half of the answers and fails. This tends to unmotivate this student and she begins to put in less effort. If this same student was given an alternative assessment she would likely be more successful. Success fuels motivation.
I don't know about you, but when every single student scored above a 90 I was the one jumping for joy.
Now, even with my effective testing sometime a kid won't always do well, either because they didn't remember or want to study, or some kids just don't test well.
This is why I highly encourage teachers to USE ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENTS
Alternative assessments take longer than a regular test but their knowledge lasts longer.
Chabad stands for Chochma, Binah, and Daas, three levels of understanding. When students have to get creative you don’t just see what they know - Chochma, you see what they understand - Binah, and how they can apply the knowledge in another way - Da’as.
Using alternative assessments is NEW approach to teaching an assessing verse testing.
Testing alludes to challenging our students knowledge expecting them to "prove themself." But why can't we give them the tools so they can be even more successful long term.
Let's talk about the quote “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
What if you brought the man on the boat and expect him to figure it out? He might be a fast learner and understand how to fish based on the conversation you had together on the way and actually catch a fish. He might try and try, almost catch one but won't, or he might have no idea what he's supposed to do because know he's aboard the boat he sees supplies, feels overwhelmed and gives up before getting started.
That's a lot like our students and their reaction to a test. Even though you explained the lessons to them in class, they get overwhelmed and anxious when it comes to a test.
So how do we test effectively to ASSESS NOT TEST using a traditional Q & A format?
The first step is connected to lesson planning, you can read the whole planning article here.
- Before starting a new unit or lesson set clear objectives and goals. This helps you choose the information thats important and relevant for your assessment. A great way to prepare you students for an assessment is to give them an outline of which topics are important.
- Give assignments or "check-ins" to see that your students understand the lesson.
- When it's time for a test give a clear outline of what to study and maybe even tips for studying. Just saying the test is on everything we learn causes student anxiety and they FOCUS on studying the WRONG things.
- Your assessment should reflect the objectives.
- Give wiggle room - includes sections where they only need to do 7/9 questions and can do the extra to not loose points if they got one wrong.
- Include short essay responses to allow for individuality and students to earn points for what they do know.
- Offer more than one type of test if possible - I offer my tests to my online students in a printable and google form option. I also sometimes have a "modified" version for a student with accommodations.
- Depending on your subject allow for a "cheat sheet"
- Make your assessment open note and see if students were listening in class and have their notes filled in.
- Give partial credit
These are 10 tips for ASSESSING students and making the assessment EFFECTIVE.