Math Assessment Helper
States require districts to test students using standardized measuring tools. In Illinois, the current testing instrument is the ACT. Educators wrestle with the notion of using this test as an instrument, yet it is the device that all districts must use.
The results from these tests are collected, analyzed and reported. Districts are compared by these tests. The results of the tests may also impact funding to districts, too. Consequently, these tests are very important to communities, educators, students, and teachers.
In order to afford educational communities with the best chance for success on standardized tests, educators must prepare students in various areas. This portion of MATHguide will help educators plan in order to help students place better on Illinois' testing instrument in regards to mathematics. However, even though other states use different testing devices, the information here can be used for nearly any device, as the ideas fit the general guidelines for most high school learning goals.
This document is divided into these sections: guiding questions, goals, indicators, teaching strategies, and PSAE preparation. There is also information on other state tests.
Additionally, there are links to other areas within MATHguide that can prove helpful.
Since the standardized testing devices are in effect, there are some guiding questions one could use to fuel organizations into action. They may serve as a starting point to initiate discussion. The discussion should lead concerned educators to master their crafts to help students score better on standardized tests.
Please carefully interpret the above questions. They are there to act as a catalyst for all educators and participants within an educational community. This includes teachers, administrators, aids, and parents. These questions are not meant to single out any participants within a community.
MATHguide Materials: Guiding Questions (Word)
Every district must collectively determine the current level of achievement of its students and what future level of achievement is desired. The testing agency will supply information to districts regarding past test results, which makes the first part of the process relatively simple. The second part of the process is much more involved and requires knowing the community both outside and inside the school(s) in question.
Nevertheless, leaders in an educational community must set a target. Whether set by a committee or an individual, the target must include a clear and attainable goal. For instance, a certain numerical average may be a target or the number of students who meet or exceed the state standard may be the target. Reaching the target will only result in the case that educators identify certain indicators and work to change teaching practices to affect those indicators.
ACT has published nine indicators (see the Standards for Transition - Mathematics link below) to help educational communities prepare students for their math test(s).
MATHguide Materials: Indicator Chart (Word)
The table below is a summary of that publication. Click on "Ideas" to access general strategies for approaching each particular indicator.
MATHguide Materials: Table of Mathematics Indicators (Word)
As one can see by examining Table of Mathematics Indicators above, the indicators are fairly broad and the details involve concepts that most effective teachers already use in their classrooms. Teachers can simply introduce mathematical concepts and skills with a higher degree of formality to bring relevance to their own subject matter while also helping students to see the usefulness of mathematics in various disciplines.
While courses could be totally restructured to accommodate strategies and methodologies that approach these indicators, doing so is not absolutely necessary. Educators can brainstorm activities that incorporate common math concepts and retain the integrity of their courses. When introducing new material, the material can be supplemented with tabular data found in research, graphical data typically found in daily papers, and other common creative avenues.
Another strategy to implement is the use of comprehensive projects. With the use of models and a thorough rubric, educators can integrate numerous disciplines and maintain course integrity. Reading, writing and computation can be included. Students can be directed to research a number of works, provide a mathematical basis for their findings and conclusions, and then reflect on those findings with the use of summaries.
MATHguide Materials: Table of Strategies (Word)
MATHguide Materials: Math Assessment Helper (Word)
Use the links below to help your educational community reach higher standards and research high stakes tests by looking at sample tests. These sample tests will help students achieve on the PSAE, which is Illinois' state examination for juniors called The Prairie State Achievement Examination.
Here is more information on state tests from states other than Illinois.