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[9 District Tips] Improve Test Scores

Monday, March 3, 2014 -- Beth Holine

3 ways to increase district exam scores, 4 day-of-testing tips for your teachers, 2 DOK resources

3 Ways to Increase District Exam Scores
Here are some useful tips that will help your district boost exam scores.

1. Culture

As Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t—you’re right.” It is critical to create a culture of positivity throughout the schools in your district all year, but it is especially important before high-stakes exams. There is often a lot of nervousness for everyone before exams, so make sure you are the cheerleader and exude positivity that will ripple down to teachers and students.

2. Practice

As the old saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” Make sure you are giving your students and teachers the tools they need to prepare for upcoming high-stakes exams. Practice tests can also help you guide instruction, making sure your students and teachers are concentrating on the areas of most need for each student. The ability to individualize learning while practicing for exams is critical to raising test scores.

3. Analyze the data

Don’t underestimate the importance of analyzing your data, which has the keys to make this year’s exams successful. Give your teachers and administrators access to the data they need to make accurate decisions to guide instruction for test preparation. Once they have the data, make sure they have the tools and training to analyze it properly. Ensure that teachers and administrators have time dedicated to review student analytics, and encourage them to use time during their workday to do so.

4 Day-of-Testing Tips for Your Teachers
Believe it or not, there are things your teachers can do the day of the test to improve scores on high-stakes exams. Below are a few ways to help improve scores:

1. Try to keep anxiety to a minimum

High-stakes testing can be stressful for everyone—teachers, administrators, parents, and students. And though some anxiety can be helpful, making us feel the urgency to prepare, it can turn detrimental quickly, undermining the work your teachers have done preparing students. Stress to your teachers the importance of keeping the environment loose and fun while still presenting the importance of the test. Have them take a cue from these third graders signing a rendition of “Test Me, Maybe” about their upcoming state exam.

2. Have your students use our test-taking checklist

Test taking is a skill, and knowing how to correctly take a test can improve scores dramatically. That is why we created our test-taking checklists. Send these checklists off to your teachers - our elementary version and our secondary version.

3. Look into seated stretching

Have you ever sat in your classroom desks? If you have, you know that stretching can offer some serious relief to tired students. Have your teachers spend some time researching effective stretching while seated, like this video from Mayo Clinic shows, and then share the techniques with their students. Not only will they thank you at the end of testing week, but they will also thank you with improved focus and (hopefully) higher scores.

4. Add “catering manager” to your resume

It may seem outside of your responsibility, but a lot of research has been done on the effects of food (specifically, the lack of food) and test performance. You will want to make sure the students in your district are well fed before testing starts every day. In low socioeconomic status schools and neighborhoods, that might mean stocking up on granola bars and other snacks before testing week. In one district, the local McDonald’s restaurants offered a free breakfast for kids on test days. Look into offers like that, and make sure the kids know about them. You might also want to try some peppermint, apparently.

2 resources for Depth of Knowledge (DOK)
Most high-stakes exams are requiring students to demonstrate a deeper level of knowledge. Below are some resources for deepening your understanding of DOK.

1. Four Levels of Depth of Knowledge

http://blog.edmentum.com/four-levels-depth-knowledge

2. 10 technology-enhanced item types being implemented on 21st century exams

http://www.edmentum.com/resources/brochures/21st-century-item-types