Test scores are most likely to improve when schools align math curriculum and teaching methods with state standards, the U.S. Department of Education reports. Improving scores on all types of math tests requires the cooperation of administrators, teachers, parents and students. As school principal Michael Miller states in an "Education World" article, focusing on specific areas of math supports overall improvement. According to the U.S. Department of Education, most high scoring National Blue Ribbon Schools use similar preparation techniques for math tests, including repetition and individualized instruction.
Alternative Teaching Methods
Students might benefit from consulting with another teacher or a tutor to explain and demonstrate confusing math concepts. Teachers might use manipulatives, visual aids, computerized math programs, peer tutors and one-on-on instruction to meet the needs of individual learners. According to a glossary of math teaching terms published on the University of Michigan’s College of Education and Human Development website, simply changing a speech pattern can help improve math comprehension.
Without sufficient time dedicated to math instruction, students are unlikely to truly comprehend concepts or remember them come testing day. Teachers must plan ahead for standardized testing and avoid cramming too much information into the few days before an important math test. Some students' scores might improve if they are encouraged to move ahead at their own pace, while others might need more learning time to break down concepts into smaller steps before they notice an improvement in scores.
Practice and Review
Consistent daily practice is perhaps the most beneficial way to improve math test scores, the U.S. Department of Education reports. Homework is often beneficial for improving math scores on standardized testing as well, a journal article published the "High School Journal" reports. The Connecticut State Department of Education’s Instructional Strategies suggests a daily review of important math concepts to ensure mastery of basic skills. The University of Michigan’s list of teaching strategies suggests a daily re-looping of previously covered math skills to demonstrate how new skills build on old ones.
The U.S. Department of Education reports that frequent assessments are one of the most important things teachers can do to help improve math test scores. Assessments do not necessarily need to be a formal test to be effective. Instead, teachers might informally survey students to check for understanding. Teachers can use assessments to determine when they need to go back and revisit more rudimentary skills that might be critical components of solving more complicated problems. For instance, scores on a middle school math test on algebraic formulas might be unnecessarily low if students have not yet mastered their multiplication facts.
- U.S. Department of Education: Improving Math Performance
- U.S. Department of Education: National Blue Ribbon Schools Program
- Education World: Boosting Test Scores: “Principal" Strategies That Work
- Connecticut State Department of Education: Instructional Strategies
- ERIC: When Is Homework Worth the Time?: Evaluating the Association between Homework and Achievement in High School Science and Math
- University of Michigan: Glossary of Math Teaching Strategies
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