Achievement Tests Are for Teachers Too!
You are looking at the pile of achievement test results that were placed on your desk. Now what are you going to do with them? You can ignore them since the school year is nearly over. You can read them quickly to reassure yourself that the best students in the class did well and the others did not do as well. Or you can analyze your test results to determine whether there are changes you would like to make next year.
Your teaching style can add to or take away from how much your students learn. Here is a list of changes you might make in how you teach the following areas.
After your students silently read a paragraph, a page, or an entire story, guide a discussion about what they read. Ask questions. Let the students read orally the part of the selection that answers the question. Discussion increases reading comprehension.
Students who read a lot have larger vocabularies than those who do not read much. Reading aloud to your students books that are above their own reading levels can raise the level of their vocabulary. Reading and listening increase vocabulary.
Spelling, Punctuation, and Usage
Students who write and then revise their writings (with teacher direction) improve in these areas. Writing activities can be as short as a sentence or a paragraph; they may be as long as a story or a report. The key is the guided revision process. Writing activities increase language skills.
Provide manipulatives for the students to use when you explain a new concept. More understanding will occur if you start at the concrete stage of teaching (using manipulatives) before moving to the abstract stage of teaching (doing problems). Manipulatives increase the understanding of math concepts.
Math Problem Solving/Application
Students need to practice solving math problems related to their lives as well as solving many different types of word problems. Students can use manipulatives or calculators or can act out problem situations. Stress the skill of problem solving (knowing what to do) more than just getting the right answer. If students have difficulty knowing what to do, they probably don't have a strong understanding of math concepts. Math understanding and practice with many types of word problems increase problem-solving skills.
The understanding of math concepts aids computation skills, but the mastering of math facts is a must if students are to compute accurately. Provide activities to help them memorize facts. Provide problems for the students to practice. Study your students' mistakes to determine whether their poor computation is a result of not understanding the processes, not knowing facts, or not knowing facts quickly enough to finish their work. Memorized facts, practice, and understanding increase computation skills.
Provide a science-rich classroom where your students have science trade books and magazines to read. Encourage students to research areas of personal interest and to share what they learn with classmates. Do the activities and experiments that your students locate and that your science curriculum suggests. It is not a waste of time to teach your students to observe the world that God created. Experiencing science increases scientific knowledge and skills.
Your main teaching goal is not for your students to finish the book or to achieve the highest grades on achievement tests, but to lay a foundation of understanding that their future teachers and the students themselves can build on. You want to teach the skills your students will need in their lives, not the skills they need on a test. Achievement tests are also for teachers: you can use these tests to improve your teaching strategies.
Reprinted from Teacher to Teacher, May 1997.
Used with permission from BJU Press. For permission to reproduce this article, please write BJU Press.