When students get a test back, they typically glance at the grade and then stuff the test in their backpack, never to think about it again (unless, of course, the test has a refrigerator-worthy high score).
Meanwhile, teachers invest time and effort making careful corrections and thoughtful comments. This feedback is meant to help kids learn and improve. Reviewing test results with students and helping kids digest the information is an important part of what we tutors do, and parents can do the same.
Learning researcher and author Annie Murphy Paul has been exploring the surprising benefits of testing:
Used correctly, tests can help students achieve three crucial aims: supporting student recall (tests force students to pull information from their own heads, enhancing retention); enhancing their awareness of their own mental processes (in the process of being tested and getting feedback, students fine-tune their sense of what they know and don’t know); and nurturing the noncognitive skills students develop from facing challenges (tests represent a kind of controlled adversity, an ideal arena for honing skills like resilience and perseverance).
In a perfect world, schools, parents and students would consciously treat tests as occasions for learning and growth, focusing less on the result and more on the powerful benefits of simply taking the test in the first place.
And here’s my Math Test Round-Up, a tool you can use with your child as you sit together looking at her latest math test, trying to figure out how to prepare better next time.
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Photo by Wesley Fryer