To begin I ask the question, "why do we take tests?" Students have heard me ask this question before and they begin raising their hands. Some answers are focus on if they are learning anything or on effort. I remind them that a test can tell me somethings. This then starts another wave of answers, one student explains that it gives me data. I ask him what he means by that. He says I get numbers from tests and that is how I give them a grade.
This was a great time to talk about how I use the test scores and information. A test does tell me what they have learned and how I can students who need me to reteach them. It is also good to explain that if they are giving their best effort, then I see their best and can help them better. I believe this message is powerful. It helps them understand that their is accountability tied to a test.
To begin I place the scale of scores onto the my white board. To explain the scale I start at the top and then place what those scores stand for. The top category is Exceeds and I explain that your scores need to between these numbers to be considered Exceeding in Reading. I continue with the chart adding Meets, Approaches, and Falls Far Below. Before they take out their white boards I ask them to think back to how hard they worked on the test and make an educated guess to what they might have scored.
I ask them to use their white boards and where they think they may have fallen on the scale. They need to reflect back on the test and answer the following questions: 1. Why do you think this might be the score you earned? 2. What did you do better at when you took this test? 3. How could you improve your score next time?
With their reflections written it is now time to show them their actual scores. I conference with each student individually. I show them where they began at the beginning of the year and where they are now. Students can see that they have learned and see how much they have grown. I then show them their score for their last test and ask them to compare it to what they thought they received. We then discuss this briefly, and I move them toward creating a plan and goal for the next time.
The last part is asking students to reflect on their actual score and be honest with themselves about how they feel about it. Many times, even the higher scoring students, still want to achieve higher the next time.
As they leave the conference with me, I hand them a piece of paper to create an action plan. I fold the paper in half and ask them to write where they want to score the next time they take a test. The bottom half is for them to list how they are going to make it happen. This is their action plan. It might be helpful to give examples or suggestions if they seem to not know where to start. I do explain that I will keep their goal and plan so that the next time they take a test they can see if the hard work paid off. I keep this all positive and do not think about what happens if the student doesn't do what they wrote. Instead I can use what they have written to motivate in future lessons.