The Penny

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

[Monday, October 5, 2009]

Test-Taking Skills

Summary and thoughts on:

LaSasso, C. J. (1999) Test-taking skills: A missing component of deaf students' curriculum. American Annals of the Deaf, 144, 35-43.

School districts administer many standardized tests. But standardized tests may not accurately reflect deaf students' learning. Test-taking skills are important, because many teachers consider test performance a direct reflection of learning. In other words, if the child cannot answer a test question, many teachers will assume that the child does not know the answer. Teachers need a way to find out what the child can and can't do, or what they know and don't know, which is why they give tests. (Oh, and because of NCLB.)

Two test-taking strategies that can be taught to deaf students are Question-Answer Relationships (QAR) and the SMART method.

1. Question-Answer Relationships (QAR). Students learn to analyze how they could or should have gotten an answer to a question.
-Right there: the answer is clearly stated in the text.
-Think and search: the answer is not in the text. The answer must be inferred or constructed from different parts of the text.
-Author and you: the answer is not in the text. The answer must be constructed using prior knowledge and text information.
-On your own: the answer is not in the text. The answer comes directly from the student's experiences and prior knowledge.
2. The SMART method. Students write in the margins of their texts. They put a check mark to mean "I understand" or "I have no questions." They put a question mark to mean "I'm confused" or "I have questions."

Students need to ask the teacher why they are reading a text. They also need to ask how their comprehension will be assessed (multiple choice, essay, etc.).

There are some problems with tests. Teachers need to remember that a student's test performance may not show what the child can actually do. Here are some problems with tests:
-A child can answer a question correctly without having the comprehension. This is especially true for multiple choice and true/false questions. They might have just guessed right.
-The child might already know the answer to the question. They might not have learned the answer from reading the text on the test. For example, if there were a text about cows and later the question "Where does the cow sleep?" the child might get it right because he already knew about cows. He didn't even need to read the text. That question did not test his reading ability at all.
-A child can answer a question wrong even though he has the comprehension. He might not have prepared well, he might not be familiar with the types of questions on the test, he might not have understood a vocabulary word, he might have difficulty organizing thoughts for an essay, he might be a poor speller, he might not have used his time wisely on the test, he might have anxiety in testing situations... the list goes on.

Authentic assessment, such as portfolio assessment is not bad. However, portfolios should include tests. Portfolios should not be instead of tests.

The author emphasizes that it is important to teach deaf students the information that will be the test, but it is also important to teach the students how to take the test--strategies. Deaf children will not be empowered to reach their full potential in society until they are able to demonstrate their comprehension of what they have learned. It's not enough to know things. You have to be able to show what you have learned.


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