October 8, 2010
At most schools, benchmark testing is either finished or in progress. Testing is supposed to be an aid to teachers, supplying them with concrete information about their students’ strengths and weaknesses that they can use to plan lessons and interventions. So teachers end up with a stack of sheets full of numbers and standards and the unenviable job of figuring out how to make sense of it all. It is not surprising that the stack can sometimes end up in a drawer when a teacher is overwhelmed. It doesn’t need to be that way, we have some simple ways you can use the information to help you.
Look for patterns
Trying to deal with each student on their own can make it seem impossible to reach all of them, instead find the similarities between your students and create groups. Once you have created groups you can then use them to target specific skills that they need to strengthen, rather than trying to cover everything for the whole class.
When you have specific skills or standards that you know need to be addressed, you can more easily find ways to address them throughout the school day. If students struggle with predicting, using that skill in reading history sources is a natural link. Is measurement a weakness? Have students map your classroom as part of geography to build up their skills. Charts and graphs fit naturally into science lessons.
Use parents as a resource
Showing parents concrete information about their child can also invest them in helping their children make gains. Have conferences with parents to share information and resources. Give them resources to use at home, either websites they can access or paper and pen projects.
Work across classrooms
Meet with other teachers either on your grade level or directly above or below to exchange strategies for addressing specific needs. If your school does not already do so, consider grouping students across classrooms as another level of support.