Pre-Test Freak out

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by wcormode, Aug 27, 2010.

  1. wcormode

    wcormode Rookie

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    Aug 27, 2010

    So I gave a pre-test in my math classes and eventhough I spent a lot of time telling them to not worry about how many they knew and that they would all get 100% in the gradebook and that it was stuff they would be learning this year, they still freaked out. A senior transferred out of my class. The foreign exchange students all asked me if they should move to an easier class.

    I am a first year teacher so maybe this is typical or maybe this is why some teachers or schools have stopped the pre-test. I dunno.
     
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  3. apple25

    apple25 Comrade

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    Aug 28, 2010

    I think pre-tests are a great idea for formative assessment. It lets you know exactly your students strengths and weaknesses so you can modify your teaching accordingly. I've never used one that covered ALL the material they will be learning in a year, however. I can see how that may scare some. But, you did tell them it wasn't worth marks. Maybe they got freaked out with the amount of new material they were expected to learn?

    Could you perhaps give them a simplified year plan showing how they will have lots of time to learn the material? It may ease their minds.
     
  4. fratermus

    fratermus Companion

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    Aug 28, 2010

    Maybe pre-load the test with a comparison to some PE pre-test they took at the beginning of the year in grade school. They couldn't do many pull-ups or run very fast/far, but they progressed nicely over time.

    Since they seem to be older, maybe compare it to learning stick if any have? Any stick driver will be able to testify to rough beginnings and later mastery.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 28, 2010

    Do they have any idea why they're being tested???

    I think I would begin with an introduction:

    I have good news and bad news for you:

    The bad news: tomorrow you're taking a test.

    The good news: it doesn't count, at least not for you.

    I want to give you what's called a "pre-test." In English, here's what that means:

    I wasn't your teacher last year. I honestly don't know what your individual strenghts and weaknesses are. I don't know who can graph, who can factor, and who STILL doesn't know his times tables. And there may be someone in here who knows most to all the material I'm going to teach; I want to know that as well.

    So I want to give this pre-test. It won't count in your grade, but it will give me a good idea of where I need to start with your class. It's just a planning tool to help me be a better teacher; not something you have to sweat.

    So your class might be able to skip the first "intro chapter" while my 2nd period class might need to re-learn that material; the Pre-test will let me know.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 28, 2010

    It grieves me deeply me that people (not just students, but also adults and remarkably many teachers) are so unhinged by testing. I think more low scores on standardized tests are occasioned by terror than by not actually having a grip on the material.

    But that's a hobbyhorse I've ridden elsewhere on this site - and gotten in trouble for.
     
  7. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Aug 28, 2010

    I agree with you TeacherGroupie---and the testing experience here is so much different than it is south of the border.
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 28, 2010

    Yet there have been those who have agreed with you each and every time. :whistle:
     
  9. wcormode

    wcormode Rookie

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    Aug 28, 2010

    I basically told them exactly what Aliceacc said. I did not create the test. It was a Criterion Reference Test formulated several years ago by the teachers at that time. Each classes test was harder than others I had seen for those subjects in the past but I explained that it would measure their growth through the year.

    I am also disturbed by the amount of anxiety created by tests. I personally love them because I am good at them.
     
  10. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    Aug 29, 2010

    Perhaps you should give weekly quizes that are only worth a few points. Maybe by doing that they will get used to being tested and won't freak out as much on a real test.
     
  11. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Sep 1, 2010

    Full blown pre-tests always freaks some of them out. Even if they buy into the "it's just a pre-test", they get over whelmed looking at how much ground you're going to cover in the class.

    I try to get the final exam from their previous class and use it as a pre-test instead. I tell them that I'm trying to see how much they've retained and where we need to start.

    I also tell them that everyone starts with a grade of a 70 and gets 1 point for each question that is correct. (I typically parse it down to a 30 problem test.) This way I get a good effort out of them. Many of my students would just guess the whole way without even reading the problems if I told them it was a free 100.
     

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