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Next Generation Science Standards

Standardized Testing

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Heather Janes Heather Janes 1600 Points

And so...I will begin this post with a pitty party for me. My kids have a 70% passing rate on our Ohio Achievement Assessment. I work my butt off, what else can I do?? How can I teach without worrying for this stupid test???????! Okay, so seriously, how do I successfully (keyword) teach so my kids can do this work? Thank you for any help! I trust all NSTA advice! :) Heather

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92316 Points

Hi Heather, I KNOW it seems sometimes like all our work and effort is for naught; but never, ever lose sight of why you are an educator. You may not receive that positive reinforcement in tangible ways, but you ARE positively impacting your students' education. Here is something that really helped my students when I was required to review (the the key word here is "review") the key vocabulary on the state science assessment with my seventh graders just before the school-wide testing in the Spring, even though most of the concepts were taught in eighth grade and not seventh. (Sound familiar?) Our state provides a sample copy version of the exam for us to use in helping to prepare our students. We also have access online to previous years' exams. So we used the sample test and the most recent previous year's exam to help determine what concepts needed to be touched upon. By dissecting these exams, we were able to come up with the key ideas we needed to not only include in the rotation lab, but also some unifying concepts that we could include into our regular content the next year. For example density or gravity can be taught using life science, physical science OR earth science content (and these were important concepts on the state test). My colleague and I created a rotation lab that took two class periods. Each station covered something that the students would probably have to know about on the exam. It really helped. At least our students had a 'fighting' chance by having been exposed to the science vocabulary before they had to take the exam. I hope your state board of education is equally helpful in providing ways to determine what content/concepts you need to introduce to your students in order to have that 'fighting chance' to do well. I hope this helps. Carolyn

Sandy Gady Sandy Gady 43175 Points

Heather, I really like Carolyn’s response, she offers some really solid advice that I intend to remember in my own practice with my own students. What I would tell you would be pretty much the same, though I would encourage you to also stop and pat yourself on the back for having an 80% pass rate. You are doing so many things right, you need to also focus on what you are doing well. To capture a higher passage rate, take a look at the work of the students that did not pass. Find the commonalities within these students and then make your changes from there. I am willing to bet when you do this, you will be able to identify those areas where you can strengthen student understanding by making a few modifications. I love the idea of dissecting released exams for vocabulary, common recurring concepts, finding multiple opportunities to teach content and concepts over time. I look forward to hearing ideas shared by others as well as your success next year.

Kathy Renfrew Kathy Renfrew 37248 Points

Heather, I sooo get your frustration! But this is a time for celebration. A new assessment for NGSS is definitely down the road a piece. That means you and I can focus on instruction instead of worrying about the assessment. (Also as my colleagues have mentioned, feel good about the work you and your students are doing) So thinking about that, what changes can we make to our instruction to begin the transition to NGSS? I think the answer for me will be found in the science and engineering practices. That way I can improve a unit I already teach. I can begin with the familiar as I work towards the unknown with my students. Kathy

Susanne Hokkanen Susanne Hokkanen 79520 Points

Heather, I have also struggled to help my students make AYP in science. In IL, many of our students are only exposed to the sciences in testing years - 4th and 7th grade, and that makes it especially challenging. A few suggestions: First, recognize that achieving AYP in our current testing environment is incredibly difficult. So look for the mini-victories. I would recommend completing independent pre and post assessments. I used our state's practice test. Students complete a pre-test in the first few days of school, and I use this data to determine content areas that require "more attention." Then close to state testing time, have them complete a post assessment. The post test allows me to predict how my students will do on the state tests, and more importantly, the comparison between the pre and post helps me demonstrate progress to myself and my administrators. Another suggestion is to consider the teaching strategies you are employing. When I was completing my student teaching, a fellow teacher told me I was doing it right if my students were exhausted and I wasn't at the end of the class period/day. And while there are still (too many) days when I am drained at the end of the day, I have moved to more student centered strategies. One strategy I use is the 5E learning cycle. However, you need to find strategies that work with your teaching style. Finally, do not get discouraged. We are all in this together! Sue

Claudia Rex Claudia Rex 3180 Points

I really like the advice that all of the veteran teachers have given this teacher. As a future teacher, I am really happy to know that there are many educators out there who not only care about the success of children, buy also, serve as motivators to their colleges and virtual teacher colleagues. I do not think I could have picked a better field to be in. I cannot wait to start.

Celeste Galindo Celeste Galindo 2620 Points

I really appreciate the advice given in this forum, and it makes me happy to see that there are productive ways to help students pass standardized testing without teaching to the test. This helps alleviate some of my fears about standardized testing, and I can't wait to have my own classroom next year.

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