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5 Misconceptions About the Redesigned SAT

The Huffington Post – Chuck Cohn

“The College Board, who administers the SAT, launched a new version of the exam on March 5, 2016, once again redesigning and updating the test. This newest redesign intends to better determine students’ success in college, and to more accurately reflect the skills that students need in high school and beyond. The latest update also includes several changes that can lend themselves to confusion. Here are five misconceptions about the redesigned SAT:”(more)

Why It’s Best To Take Tests Early In The Day

Forbes – Carmen Nobel

“On average, students perform best on tests at the start of the school day. And for every hour later in the day, their tests scores decrease. Why? Because they suffer from cognitive fatigue. In other words, their brains get tired. However, test scores do increase slightly when students get to take a short break immediately before taking a test. These are among the key findings of a new study, “Cognitive fatigue influences students’ performance on standardized tests.””(more)

Is more physical education at school linked to higher student math scores?

The Washington Post – Perry Stein

“The amount of time students spend doing physical activity in school appears to be linked to higher standardized math scores in D.C. schools, according to a new American University study that examined the success of the city’s Healthy Schools Act and found that schools offering more physical activity had significantly better math success…Schools across D.C. struggled to meet those targets for physical education, but those that provided about 90 minutes each week saw higher standardized math scores, according to the report.”(more)

State Test Results Are Getting Closer To Student Achievement On NAEP

Achieve – Staff Writer

“In 2015, we first released this report, Proficient vs. Prepared, showing large disparities between most state test results and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). With states taking action to transition to new, more rigorous tests over the past couple of years and also setting new levels of proficiency or cut scores, states deserve a lot of credit for reducing or even eliminating the “honesty gap” that existed. With standards and tests that gauge whether students are able to show they can do grade-level work, parents are provided better information so they can partner with educators to impact student achievement. The 2016 edition of the Proficient vs. Prepared report demonstrates that most states acknowledged and corrected their reporting of student proficiency. Parents, students, and teachers in the states where gaps closed are now getting information from state tests that are much closer to other proficiency indicators allowing them to make more informed decisions for their individual students.”(more)

Texting In The Dark Hits Student Grades

Forbes – Nick Morrison

“Students who text in the dark get less sleep and perform worse at school than those who put down their phones when they switch off their lights. New research suggests that the sleep-delaying impact of ‘blue light’ emitted from phones is intensified in the dark, and results in students feeling sleepier during the day and performing worse in tests. In contrast, texting before lights out was found to have no impact on academic performance. The study adds to a small but growing body of evidence on the importance of sleep for teenage brains, suggesting it should be given the same weight as nutrition and exercise in promoting healthy bodies and minds.”(more)

Third party, curriculum-based testing, the wave of the future?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Studies suggest that the process of preparing for and taking a test can enhance learning and information retention. Research also confirms that testing can be a useful assessment tool.

 

Recently there has been a great deal of discussion of the pros and cons of various types of testing. Because money, college admissions, and careers are tied to testing, it is difficult to separate facts from marketing rhetoric.

 

There are three basic types of tests: 1) tests prepared by teachers, 2) curriculum-based tests prepared by others (third party, curriculum-based testing), and 3) standardized tests.

 

Tests prepared by teachers have little standardization. These tests can cover class lectures, material from books or learning aids, homework, projects, behavior, and other things. While this type of flexibility makes teaching interesting, it does not assure a student has mastered the required material. In fact, it is difficult for school management to know how much students have learned until they enter the next grade level.

 

For this model to work well good teachers must be retained for many years, since the consequences of poor teaching do not show up for at least a year (in some cases many years if a student has a string of underperforming teachers).

 

The second type of test is a curriculum-based test that is prepared and administered by a third party. These tests provide unbiased data on teacher and student performance. If these tests are administered quarterly, teachers can use the data to adjust lesson durations (spend more or less time on subjects) and identify students who need extra reinforcement on specific concepts. Early identification of student strengths and weaknesses means remediation can begin early. With targeted help and focused teaching, more students can master the required material by the end of the year. This data also helps school management coach and place teachers based on strengths and weaknesses.

 

The last type of testing is standardized testing. Standardized testing can provide information in baseline proficiency in some subjects. These tests are best used for topics with little ambiguity. For example, grammar and mathematics are easily tested using standardized methods. Unfortunately, standardized testing does not provide specific information that can be used to improve day-do-day classroom instruction or provide data on whether schools are building a foundation that prepares students for advanced learning.

 

While all types of testing are helpful, more focus on third party curriculum-based testing would be a way to improve learning outcomes quickly.