Ace the Test: Building a Test-Prep Strategy with Study Island
Ace the Test: Building a Test-Prep Strategy with Study Island
Every year, as the spring semester ticks by, testing season and all the emotions it brings slowly starts to creep up on both veteran and first-year teachers alike. Between lesson planning, pacing with curriculum guides, and providing targeted instruction for individual students’ needs, preparing for spring summative assessments can quickly begin to feel overwhelming.
The good news is that there are tools that can help you! In our recent webinar, Ace the Test: Developing a Test Prep Strategy with Study Island, we discussed how weaving some of Study Island’s key test-preparation components into your daily instruction can ensure that your students are prepared to demonstrate mastery. And with a good strategy in place, you’ll save time and start to calm a few of those stressors you may be feeling.
Ready to jump-start your summative assessment strategies? Check out the five-step strategy (with a bonus!) that you’ll need to follow to weave test preparation into instruction with Study Island. You can also watch the full webinar recording for additional information.
Assessment Strategy with Study Island
Step One: Identify your state's priority standards
The first step in the test-preparation timeline is to identify your state’s priority standards, IF there are any (remember that not all states have priority standards). Some states might also call these “essential standards” or “power standards.” These are the essential learnings a student must master to advance to the next grade level and are highly prioritized on summative exams.
If you’re not sure what your priority standards are, another helpful approach could be analyzing your state’s released tests to identify which standards are assessed most prominently on the test. There will usually be a few key standards that are covered more than others. Focus your efforts on the standards that correspond to the most questions on the test to get the most out of your test-prep efforts.
Step Two: Assess standards knowledge with a Built Test in Study Island
Once you’ve identified the standards you need to focus on, it’s time to see what your students already know. This will serve as a starting point to assess where any blind spots may lie or, on the flip side, determine the skills that don’t need to be covered because your students have already mastered them!
In the webinar, our Study Island expert, Wendy Teffeteller, suggests starting this process by using the Suggested Topics Report if you’ve already been using Study Island frequently. This report gives educators a better understanding of which topics your students need a little extra support with. Once you’ve identified where students need additional practice, you can head over to the Built Test library, where you can create customized and unique assessments that leverage questions from Study Island’s standards-based items for a comprehensive test you can trust. Even better, you won’t have to grade the tests, and the results are available in real time.
If this is your first time getting back into Study Island for the school year, don’t worry! You can still use the Built Test library to create a test that has a couple of questions from each of your academic standards.
Step Three: Measure and review success with reporting
Now that you’ve assessed your students with a Built Test, you’re ready to analyze the results. Remember, by using a Built Test, the data will already be populated into a robust, easy-to-read report as soon as the students finish the exam.
By using the Built Test in Study Island, you’ll have access to the Item Analysis Report, which breaks down your students’ results by topic and academic standard. Even further, you can see the questions that students missed on these topics and standards to help you diagnose why students saw less success on some questions. The ability to dial in on these details in the Built Test Reports is particularly helpful when strategizing assigned practice for each student, as you likely won’t have time to cover every standard that will be featured on the state assessments. Pinpointing what needs to be reviewed further and what doesn’t will save you precious time this spring!
Step Four: Assign Study Island practice and instruction
You’ve pre-assessed your students with a custom test and analyzed the data to determine your plan—now, it’s time to get to work. Study Island makes this step a seamless transition by easily building practice into your everyday instruction.
Assigning practice and instruction assignments built off standards-aligned work is easy in Study Island, as you can choose to assign work directly to individual students from your Teacher Page or to the entire class in Class Manager. Just as you can choose the questions for your assessments in Built Tests, you’re also able to make assigned practice fit your classroom needs. One size doesn’t fit all, and Study Island knows that. You’re also able to customize options like the pass percentage rate to ensure that your students are mastering the skill to a standard that your school expects. As students answer questions correctly, they’re rewarded with a quick, one-minute game before heading to the next question. Game-based motivation is an exciting way to keep students engaged during test-prep season, especially as the big state assessment creeps closer.
Step Five: Reassess with a Group Session
After students have practiced their skills and mastered concepts (earning those Blue Ribbons!), it’s time to let them show what they know. Instead of using another Built Test, Wendy suggests using Study Island’s Group Sessions, as you’re still measuring students’ standards mastery while keeping students excited and engaged with a little friendly classroom competition.
If you’re new to Group Sessions, this feature uses stimulating collaborative practice to challenge students while they demonstrate their standards-mastery skills. Group Sessions also serve up results immediately so that you can review missed questions with the class on the fly, making it the perfect opportunity to address misconceptions. Being able to pinpoint how to best utilize the short amount of time between the present and the state exam is invaluable to both educators and students, and Group Sessions allow you do accomplish that.
BONUS: Allow students to work in the topic tree to earn Blue Ribbons
If you’re finding that you have students who’ve mastered all the essential standards you want to cover for the state assessment but you still want them to shore up any other missing pieces, you’re in luck. With the topic tree, students can self-select topics for a specific grade and subject, earning any Blue Ribbons they might be missing. Keeping students practicing in all the right areas before the big test is essential, and this is another option to help students keep their skills sharp.
Another great way to utilize the topic tree to fill in gaps is by creating a Study Island Blue Ribbon contest. Adding an incentive will motivate students and bring a sense of community to your classroom. If that sounds like something you’d like to enjoy but you’re not sure where to begin, check out our Design Your Own Study Island Contest Toolkit!
Building test preparation into your daily instruction can seem like a daunting task, but taking the time to break things down into a step-by-step process will make it quicker and easier. So, take a deep breath and follow this Study Island test-prep strategy; then your students will be well on their way to acing the test. You can also check out our Test-Prep Toolkit if you’re looking for more resources for assessment-preparation support.
If you’re not yet a Study Island customer but you want to try out this test-preparation strategy for yourself, sign up for a free trial to see for yourself why over 150,000 educators love Study Island.