This week we are talking test scores and data driven feedback.
The moments before a teacher hands back a graded exam can be fraught with both fear and anticipation for students. They will often replay the exam in their mind retracing the areas they know they were confident and those where they struggled. What most students don’t realize is that teachers feel the same way when the exams are handed in. Were they able to effectively convey the nuances of the subject? Did the question on the exam clearly ask the students to demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have been teaching? Teachers often spend years continually honing and adjusting their pedagogy and test writing skills because, much to the surprise of students, an exam tests teachers too!
We’ve previously discussed different techniques for measuring student’s success here, and data can be a valuable resource for teachers and the efficacy of lessons, but ultimately there are far too many variables for those statics to be all-inclusive. That certainly doesn’t mean however that they should be ignored. A simple spreadsheet breaking down the success rate of each question will give you a rapid look at which questions were effective and which were not. Taking that a step further, if you break down the spreadsheet into subjects (comprehension, critical thinking, skills, knowledge…) you can also see how those particular sets are scoring.
The critical element in all of this is to structure your thinking to view each exam as an opportunity to get feedback from your students. Everyone is capable of having a “bad day,” and there will undoubtedly be outliers but if you consistently perform a self-evaluation after each exam, you will start to see patterns and areas you can focus on improving to better your instruction and testing.