Pre-test woes

Discussion in 'General Education' started by giraffe326, Sep 4, 2014.

  1. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I love numbers and I have been tracking data since before it was a thing. My kids always keep data notebooks.

    Today, I have them a pretest on two CCSS math goals. I talked for a good 10-15 minutes about our data notebooks, how they are useful, how we will use them, why we are doing them, etc... I told them that they were going to take a pre and post test for all the CCSS goals. For chapter 1, we have to take 5 pretests (10 questions each) and today we were going to take 2 of them. I said that I didn't expect them to know most of this. I told them if they got a 30-40, I consider that pretty good! (I have to start with algebra, so my expectations are low for the pretest.) We talked about how there are only 4 basic operations. I wanted them to look at the problems and solve it somehow- even if they knew it wasn't right. I told them to take their best guess.

    This is not different from anything I've done in other years. The only difference is the grade level. I've previously used this in 5th and 2nd.

    O.M.G. The whining and complaining! I had a few outright refuse to even attempt it! I'm about to check them now, so I don't even know how bad some of the answers are.

    Based on their behavior, I'm assuming this is something that really hasn't been done with them before.

    Any advice on how to get them to do this without the whining? They still have to take 3 more for this chapter! I think it will get easier, especially after we take a post test in a few weeks, but in the meantime, I need that data.

    Help!
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    If you were a 12 year old, would you appreciate being given a bunch of tests that your teacher flat-out tells you she expects you to fail, badly?
     
  4. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I get the same whining from my seniors with our beginning of the year pretest. I emphasize that it is to show how much they've improved at the end of the year and for now just do their best and that I will appreciate their effort.

    Then I give them each a mini donut. I figure it's kind of like wrapping a dog pill in peanut butter.
     
  5. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I think there a difference between telling students they are going to fail badly and prepping them to understand they are about to see end of the year standards and are expected to master these standards over the course of the year.

    I think Giraffe is just setting the expectations, that they are end of the year standards and that students will understand that hard work is what leads to learning and growth.
     
  6. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I didn't outright say, "Here is a test. You will fail it." :rolleyes:

    It was a big conversation about growing and improving. I related it to a height growth chart and watching yourself grow. I said this is sort of like that but for math skills. I also spoke for several minutes about how my real goal is to see how they think mathematically. Can they reason out an answer?
     
  7. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Bribery is a good idea. We have a healthy school thing. Sweets are forbidden. But maybe I can bribe with a quick 10-15 minute extra recess.
     
  8. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    We do pre and post tests too. Giraffe would you mind sharing or explaining you're data notebooks?
     
  9. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    When giving pre-tests, I usually explain that I use the information to plan what I will teach them in groups. If they don't do their best , they will have to sit through boring lessons about things they already know how to do. I also say it's okay if it's hard, because the test covers things they haven't learned yet.
     
  10. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I've done it different ways based on the grade level and subject(s) that I was teaching.

    In 2nd, they graphed fluency (words per minute), math facts, and the spelling of their high frequency words.

    In 5th, I also graphed fluency. Math, I did a variety of ways. Eventually I came to use 10 question assessments for each standard. They graph their pre and post test score side by side. All their geometry standards went on a page, all of their measurement standards went on a page, etc... I used the same assessment for pre and post.

    6th- I only teach math/social studies this year. It is my first year in 6th. I'm using the 10 question per standard method. I went through the text (which I am required to follow and use) and figured out when each standard was introduced, as well as the chapter it was last addressed. That tells me what to assess at the beginning and end of each chapter. For example, in chapter 1, I have to assess 6.EE.1, 6.EE.2, 6.EE.3, 6.EE.4, and 6.NS.4. I will post test 6.EE.1 and 6.EE.3. The other standards that I will introduce will be revisited later on. I do this so that they don't have a massive 250 problem pretest and 250 problem post test. For chapter 1, they have 50 problems of preassessments. I chose to do 20, 20, 10. They will have 20 problems of post assessments.
     
  11. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Thanks. I should reiterate that. I had them take a 5th grade EOY assessment on Tuesday. (30 problems) One of the 5th grade teachers was out for a sudden illness for a few months. They ran all the subs off. No one lasted longer than a month. I think they went through 6 or 7 subs that each did a week or longer. A student teacher in the building finished the year out once her student teaching assignment was over, so they had a few weeks of consistency at the end. Anyway, I told them the whole 'boring lesson' spiel the other day. I should revisit it.
     
  12. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Well, I graded the first page of the assessment so far (on all 66 of them). No one has gotten anything correct, BUT some of them have done an excellent job with their explanations and thinking. I think I will use the document camera to display a couple, along with a lot of praise, and hope for the best tomorrow.
    I am also going to give them a different test tomorrow. 4 of the goals fall under "Expressions and Equations" and that is really hard. I will give them the one test we have to do under "Number Sense" tomorrow. It will still be difficult, but it will at least look somewhat familiar.
     
  13. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Why must you do so many? This sounds like a waste of time.
     
  14. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Wow, get 6th graders to not whine about standardized tests. If you figure that one out, I think you should write a book.

    If you think it is really helpful to plot data, go for it. The whine goes with the territory of 6th grade. I wouldn't worry about it.
     
  15. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    If you are referring to the 66, that is the number of students that I have.
    They had twenty problems today, covering two learning targets. (10 problems each)
     
  16. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    That's where I am too. I think the kids would be reasonably tolerant over one pretest. Maybe even two. But FIVE pretests over multiple consecutive days? I don't know how you'd manage to keep the kids from feeling very discouraged about themselves, even if you did preface it by saying they aren't expected to know it.

    Truth be told, I don't find a lot of value in pretests, unless I have reason to suspect that there will be kids who end up doing well on them. What exactly gets proven by a pretest where a 30% would make the teacher happy though? It confirms what I already know, that the kids are largely clueless on the concept? Couldn't a two minute class discussion get that same information without needlessly frustrating the class and wasting a class period?

    Sorry... I'll get off my soapbox now. I had to waste an hour of my life today giving my third graders a district-mandated pretest on fourth grade material when they haven't even taken third grade math yet, and I have to spend approximately 11 more hours of my life throughout the year giving my kids more pretests... in math. I'd argue that my kids would ultimately be better mathematicians if they spent those 12 hours actually learning and practicing math, instead of confirming for the district that... nope, they don't know THIS fourth grade concept yet either... but what do I know.
     
  17. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Data tracking, IMO, is extremely meaningful. My scores went from the school average (in the 70% proficient range) to 90%+ proficiency.
    My first two years were without individual students tracking data. That is when I was in the 70s. After implementing the data tracking, I have consistently been in the 90s. I had 88% one year, and my P reamed me for going down, then it turns out that I had the best scores in my large district- by far. That was also the group that came to me the furthest behind.
     
  18. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Because it might not be about what you already know as the teacher, it is about what many students don't know, that thier effort determines their outcome. It might be about setting up a situation where you can show students how life and learning works. That learning is a growth mindset. That a student can know relatively little about a subject, learn not only to set a goal but how to meet it, and in the end become an expert on the subject. They need to see the results of their effort.

    I think most students really need to see the value of working hard, that their work to learn something is what determines if and how much they learn. A student needs to see that their effort results in their improvment. Having a pretest graphed and follow up tests can be real eye opening experience for many students.
     
  19. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    :thumb:

    Well said!

    My first two years, I analyzed data. But I had an epiphany- I need to know if I struggle with something in order to improve it. They also need to know their strengths and weaknesses. Data graphing is a great visual for that.

    People thought I was crazy when I used it with my 2nd graders. (Well, they thought I was crazy when I began it with my 5th graders, too.) They were so engaged. I remember one kid when down in his fluency 94 wpm to 92. He was so disappointed that his graph went down, he went home and started reading aloud constantly. His mom emailed me to tell me that he was driving her nuts :lol: He jumped up to 106 the next month. He was sooo excited. His hard work paid off. He continued practicing at home and he was my best reader by the end of the year. He was borderline reluctant at the beginning of the year.
     

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