11 November 2009

An effective way to raise test scores?

Raising test scores may be the touchiest subject any for any teacher. This is especially true for teachers that teach End of Instruction testing classes. Any time “raising test scores” is mentioned, those EOI teachers get agitated. Get. Teachers. Talking. This is the way to raise test scores. Get the teachers talking.

Effective collaboration between teachers is a key component to student learning. Why not draw on other teacher’s expertise? This includes successes and failures. Teachers need to talk to each other about what works and what doesn’t work. Peer Learning Communities (PLC) are a great way to get this collaboration started. These communities should include a discussion of what is right with the class, what is wrong, and begin to work towards an alignment of the curriculum.

Communication between teachers and administration also needs to occur. If there is going to be a change in how things are going to be done, why not let the teachers decide how to do it? Or at least drive the early discussions? The teachers are the implementers of change, therefore, they probably need to have a say in how that change will/should occur. All of the tools for effective learning may already be in the building. Someone just needs to get the right people talking to each other so these tools can begin to work together.

Freedom of adaptation is the final piece of the puzzle. Teachers have to have some wiggle room to adapt for differentiated learning. Otherwise, why not just record one teacher, delivering the same content and replay it for every class. Teachers (at least the good ones) know (through assessment) when their students are learning. They also know how to adapt curriculum to fit the needs of their students. If a teacher does not know how to do that, an effective PLC and/or mentor teacher will be an invaluable resource.

Raising test scores is a goal that is attainable, but only if teachers are given the tools needed. It is attainable only if those tools are used effectively by the administration. Scores will go up when teachers are allowed to use their expertise to create an environment in which learning may occur.

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