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9 Interventions That Improve Student Test Scores

Aug 17, 2017

Didn’t the school year just start? Isn’t it too early to start talking about testing?


If you want to see improvements on the spring tests, you need to intervene now. Below are 9 interventions that you can perform that will improve student test scores.

  1. Raise your level of expectations

    Sure, the raising-expectations-flag debuted in the 1960s, but how often have "Expectations" become a rallying cry, rather than an action taken? The answer is, too often.

    What results from a student not doing their homework? Do you expect students to do all of the homework assigned? I once worked with a resource teacher who would call parents at work and let them know that their children needed to stay after school with her to do their homework. She would then drive the students home when she was done for the day, typically 90 minutes or so after the last school bell for the day rang. Those students were expected to do their homework. They knew it and after staying late after school a day or two, managed to complete the expected homework.

    Nearly all students will make a strong effort to rise to your level expectations. Give them all high expectations to reach.

    Learn more about what expectations really mean (beyond test scores) in this fabulous Washington Post article.

  2. Motivate

    Motivate students while raising the level of expectations. Positivity goes a long way. If a student doesn’t believe that they can do something, they probably can’t. The inverse of the statement is also true. If a student believes that they can do something, they likely will. Create a growth mindset. Get students to believe that they can learn.

  3. Teach test taking strategies

    Taking a test is a skill. Teaching students test taking strategies needs to be done. Try the following strategies and Google additional ones.

    • Narrow your options by eliminating the answers you know are wrong.
    • Make sure that the bubble sheet answer that you are filling in matches the question you are trying to answer. You don’t want to skip a question.
    • Look for information in the question. It may help you figure out the answer.

    Teaching test taking skills leads to results, especially for lower achieving students. Studies have proven that low-ability students gained more than middle- and high-ability students who had been taught the same test taking strategies. The studies showed that the results held true even for ESL students. Test taking skills teach students how to think through testing and will help improve results.

  4. Take practice tests

    Practice makes perfect. Well, maybe not perfect, but definitely makes for improvements. Give students the opportunity to exercise the skills that they will need on exams.

    Most districts use various third party software that asks some of the same types of questions that appear on state tests. To experience larger gains, try building your own assessments. You can customize them to meet your needs.

    Practice specific types of questions that students will encounter. We found that text dependent analysis questions have everyone stumped. It appears that educators are looking for examples of how to write effective TDA questions. Whether your students need practice with TDA questions or some other type, search for examples online, or reach out to us. We will work to put some information and examples together for you.

  5. Analyze data

    Let’s make use of all that practice test data. Dig into the numbers and analyze the student data. Uncover the areas where students appear deficient.

    "I’m a teacher, not a data analyst." We hear that statement from teachers all the time. If you don’t have an Student Performance Suite that pulls all of the data together into one, online location, analyzing the data can prove time consuming. You can do it though. Check out a primer we put together to help you create a data driven classroom level action plan.

  6. Remediate

    Don’t save remediation just for student interventions. If you have analyzed the data, then you know where the cracks are. It’s your opportunity to repair them.

    Identify the areas that need the most attention. Divide students into groups to work on shared areas of need. In some cases you may need to go into full-on Response to Intervention or MTSS mode. However you choose to implement it, create time every week for remediation. Find the issues and do your best to correct them now.

  7. Curb absenteeism and lateness

    You must be present to win. Beginning in kindergarten, students who attend school regularly score higher on tests than their peers who are frequently absent. Simply, it is hard to teach a student who does come to school.

    Monitor attendance and work to curb absenteeism and lateness. Look for the signs of at risk student behavior. Create a rubric to score students at risk. Use data to determine when to intervene. Catch at risk students before they fall through the cracks.

  8. Get personal

    To best achieve, students need more than to just believe in themselves. They will put more effort in if they feel connected to staff members. Every student should have at least one adult staff member that they feel connected to, and every staff member should strive to connect with each student on a daily basis.

    Take personal connections beyond the students. Understand their home life. Get to know their parents. Make parents and the community part of your school. Think about ways that allow you to connect with parents and the community. If the students see that all of the adults in their lives are invested in their education, they will strive to reach as high as they can.

  9. Professional development

    Education evolves quickly. New concepts and strategies pop up every year. As a result, providing professional development for teachers is vital. Whether the training focuses on using text dependent analysis in the classroom, understanding how to map your curriculum to state standards, or implementing differentiated instruction, teacher need professional development to remain effective.

    We are educators, but we are also life-long learners. Not only does professional development help educate the educators, but it often creates a sense of excitement. Feeling confident in teaching with a new technique drives teacher engagement and will likely lead to better test results.

So there you have it. Nine great interventions that will help improve student performance on test. Let us know how you put them to use and if you need further help with these or other interventions.

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