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Charity Preston's picture
Charity Preston, M.A., is a national presenter, consultant and author. She has completed studies in gifted training, cooperative learning and differentiation, as well as a master's degree in...
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Tracking Student Growth

Assessment of students is a hot topic today in the field of public education. How do we know the students are making adequate yearly progress? Are they learning an entire year's worth of material? Can we fit all that material in and still have retention of the new ideas and formulas?

It is a lot to expect from educators and students alike to teach and learn all the new information that is required in six hours or less nine months of the year. But to make sure the students are learning~ which is definitely expected~ there is an easier way to see concrete results: pre- and post-testing~ along with graphing results.

To put it simply~ devise a pretest of snippets of all the material the students are expected to learn in a specific subject (math~ science~ social studies~ spelling~ etcetera). Give the test~ which should be narrowed to fifty questions maximum for time and interest levels~ at the beginning of the school year~ and once again every nine weeks until the end of the year. This should be a total of five times. To make it even easier~ make the test multiple choice and have the students "trade to grade" the results for you.

After giving the pretest at the beginning of the year~ have each child make a folder in which he or she creates a graph (line or bar) to report his or her average percent correct. The teacher will also create a large poster sized graph of how the average scores break down. For example: there will be a bar for percentage of students who received 0-20% average correct~ 21-40%~ 41-60%~ 61-80%~ and 81-100% correct on the pretest. I try to remind the students toward the beginning of the year that they have not learned the material yet~ so they should expect to be in the low range. The scores may actually surprise you as they usually do me.

From that point on~ let the students know each time that you give the test~ your expectations have increased because they have learned more of the content and should be able to retain it. Students will continue to graph individual results~ as well as the teacher graphs class results. The class results' bars should begin to shift from the left side of the poster (0-20% average correct) towards the right side (larger average correct).

Make sure to keep all class posters for the entire year and review on occasion to show the class how much growth they have and are experiencing throughout the school year. Not only will they be more motivated once they see concrete results of their learning~ but administration also likes to witness hard and fast numbers. It's a win-win for all!

Charity Preston - The Organized Classroom