Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What is Test-Savviness?

In our world of high-stakes testing many teachers cannot escape the lure of teaching to the test. But the term "teaching" conveys that in order to teach, learning must have taken place on the part of those being taught. But year-after-year teacher get a new crop of students whom they say did not retain any information from the previous school year. It that is the case, were the students taught? Did learning occur? Did the teaching that took place meet the needs of the learner? Often times this conversation takes a back seat to preparation of standardized exams.
I have developed a set of classroom strategies for developing test-savvy math students. I believe that we can use research-based instructional strategies that promotes higher order thinking skills using, plus test prep. The result is "test-savviness". Test-savviness in math is about knowing and understanding three things:

1. math content and understanding how the content might be assessed;
2. the test, its mechanics and procedures; and
3. ones own personal strengths and challenges.

Each week, I will preview one of the test-savvy math principles (student ownership, accountable talk, collaboration, error analysis and tapping into prior knowledge) and discuss how a strategy can be applied to mathematics instruction. When used consistently, the result are students who are not only better prepared for high-stakes exams in math, but also students who are better prepared for life.