Thursday, April 10, 2014

Math STAAR: Strategies for Success

By Dawn Woods, RME Elementary Mathematics Coordinator

As every math teacher across the state of Texas knows, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) testing window is upon us. You have worked diligently, teaching vocabulary, concepts & skills, through the lens of mathematical process standards thereby empowering your students to implement mathematics in everyday life, as well as perform on this assessment. The strategies listed in this blog are suggestions that could enhance your students’ success.
  1. Teach goal setting. Research suggests that when students are taught to set specific academic goals they make progress in learning skills and content, discover how to self-regulate learning, and improve their self-efficacy and interest in the task (Bandura & Schunk, 1981). Through this goal setting and self-assessment process, students are enabled to monitor and evaluate their performance during a lesson, unit of instruction, or review of course material thereby increasing student performance and instilling responsibility for their learning. An example of goal setting for STAAR could look like:
  2. Teach “timed” test strategies. A few strategies include:
    • Listen to the test proctor’s directions.
    • Budget time appropriately. Work quickly but do not rush.
    • Work the problems in the test book, not in your head!  Double check if you copied numbers correctly, if the units are similar, and if you applied the appropriate formulas. Use good handwriting so you do not misread your answer.
    • Do not be too happy to see your computed answer as one of the answer choices!  Test makers know what wrong choices could be made and include them in the answers. So check your answer before marking it on the answer sheet!
    • Do not panic. If the question is difficult, return to it later. Maybe another question will job your memory on how to answer the difficult question.
    • Position the answer sheet next to the test booklet so that you can mark answers quickly while checking that the number next to the circle on your answer sheet is the SAME as the number next to the question you are answering.
    • Before turning in your test, double-check your answers.
    • Make sure you bubbled in the answers correctly on your answer sheet.
    •  Don’t be disturbed by other students finishing before you. Extra points are not given for finishing early!
  3. Communicate with parents and students to encourage healthy pre-test behaviors. A few pre-test behaviors include:
    • Relaxing for a few hours before bedtime.
    • Getting enough sleep the night before a test.
    • Eating a healthy breakfast and avoiding foods that could make you groggy or hyper.
    • Don’t stress!  You’ve worked hard and are prepared for the test.
Works Cited:
Bandura, A., & Schunk, D.H. (1981). Cultivating competence, self-efficacy, and intrinsic interest through proximal self-motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41(3), 586-598.

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