In my previous blog entry from yesterday, I examined the most effective way to help prepare students for a math assessment. I hypothesized that because we provided the students with lots of extra time to review, practice, seek help, and prepare for the exam, that they would all fare quite well and not need to complete the test redo process. Following Saturday’s final preparation period, I felt as though each and every student was prepared and ready for the assessment.

Then came the assessment, today in STEM class. While many of the students did do quite well and felt successful, two of the students in my math groups do need to complete the redo process for one objective. Now, this isn’t at all a negative outcome. In fact, today’s result is actually an improvement from past assessments. Usually, at least three to five students need to complete the redo process for one or more of the objectives. This time, only two students need to redo one objective. That’s a huge change from earlier in the year. So, in my mind, the extra preparation and review time we allowed, helped the students better meet, and in many cases, exceed the graded objectives. The boys seemed to feel prepared and felt confident, for the most part, when they turned in their completed assessment. In my mind, today’s outcome was successful and positive in every way, and proved that students do need extra time to process information to prepare for a math assessment.

But what about those two students who need to complete the redo process for one objective? What happened there? Why did they struggle to display their ability to meet one graded objective? Did they not effectively study and review the skills covered outside of class? Each of the two students struggled with the same objective involving word problems. They were unable to transform a word problem into an algebraic expression in simplest form. Was this because the problems were too tricky? The two problems came directly from previous lesson check-in assessments, and had been reviewed and discussed in class on a few separate occasions. While they were challenging problems, they were not impossible or meant to fool the students in any way. So then, why did these two students get both word problems wrong on their chapter assessment? What happened? Although their answers were, in some cases, somewhat close and showed an understanding of the skill, they did not simplify their response or properly execute the needed computations. In this particular case, more review did not help these students understand how to turn written descriptions into algebraic expressions. Would anything have helped them? Some students just struggle with word problems, which is why we completed a whole unit on how to tackle word problems earlier in the year. I even reviewed the four steps involved in the problem solving process when the students worked on this skill of turning words into algebraic expressions. Nothing seemed to help these two students with this one objective. While I would have loved to have seen all of my students master every objective covered on today’s assessment, these two students still have a chance to master the skill with which they struggled by completing the redo process. Some students just struggle with word problems and how to decipher them.

Overall though, I was very pleased with today’s outcome and realized how important giving the students time to review major concepts prior to completing an assessment is to the learning process. We can’t expect our students to master skills in just a day or two before completing an assessment; they need time to ask questions, complete practice problems, and review the concepts covered before demonstrating their mastery of the skills or topics covered.