Prepare to Assess Successfully
You can begin now and ensure that your students will be ready to do well on the semester exam.
First, write in your own words specifically what plan to measure. Consider these ideas.
(1) How well students recall what you’ve taught about ______________.
(2) How well students can use vocabulary. (which?)
(3) How well students can write a paragraph or short essay within limited amount of time. (about what?)
(4) How well students can read and respond to a new piece of writing. (Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, other).
(5) How well students can organize a short essay on a general prompt that connects common readings with personal experience, observations or independent reading.
(6) How well students can read and respond to a graphic depiction related to topics studied (art, cartoon, other).
Once you can articulate clearly what you plan to assess/measure, tell the students. They should not be surprised about what knowledge and skills they are being asked to demonstrate.
Prepare and give them a copy of an Examination Preparation guideline. The one here is for a middle school class. Adapt to meet your needs.
Then, create an exam that measures what you expect to learn about your students. During exam reviews, use the same terminology they will see on the exam.
Next, plan time in class for a Semester Exam Analysis so students can figure out what kinds of errors caused them to earn fewer points than they expected to earn. When students see that it was a simple mis-reading or insufficient study of the right materials, they are likely to be more assiduous in preparing for next test or exam. See link to sample analysis.
It is useful to use some if the class time to talk about clues in the prompts that lead to correct responses. You could pair students and have them look again at a previous test or exam and underline words or phrases that are keys to correct answers. See Bloom’s Taxonomy Question Cues. Finally, invite students to write one sentence stating what they will do to maintain or improve their grades on upcoming assessments. Share with students BLOOM’S QUESTION LADDER.
Reduce “surprises” to students and challenges from administrators and parents.
If time permits, before the students leave for the school year, allot time for them to see their results.
Most important, during this in-class exam review, be prepared to make adjustments in the grades if it is clear you’ve made an error. It’s OK to be honest when we’ve made a mistake.
And last, but not least, use information learned from the exam and on the signed student reflections to design lessons for the next school year.