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College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

The MCAS Maven
Authored by Joan Reissman, The MCAS MAVEN of JFYNetWorks

Making Use of Student Performance Data

Student ownership is the key

by Joan Reissman, MCAS Maven

Data is the key word in almost any discussion of student achievement. There is so much emphasis on data and test scores that teachers, students and parents can easily come to hate even hearing the word. But data itself is not the villain. It’s all about how you use it.

Data is not just about test performance: it’s about student skills. This is an obvious statement, but it’s frequently overlooked. If students improve their skills, they are going to improve their test scores. Research shows that students need to become active participants in data analysis1. They should analyze their data and use the information to take ownership of their own progress. Data can be a tool for setting personal goals that are measurable and relevant, and that encourage students to develop a sense of personal ownership. Robert Marzano in his article The Art and Science of Teaching / When Students Track Their Progress found a 32 percent gain in achievement when students consistently tracked their own progress.

Summertime Studytime

Math and English Review

by Joan Reissman, MCAS Maven

GPA ON THE LINE

The weather is finally nice. You’re sick of school. Going to the beach and hanging out with friends seems like a great idea. After ten months of stuffy classrooms, the last thing you want to think about is next school year. I hear you! You can have fun! But, if you use just a little of your precious summer time to do some studying, you will hit the ground running in September (or August). A little preparation over the summer can really pay off when you head back to class in the fall.

HS Science MCAS Tests

Are we confused yet?

By Joan Reissman, MCAS Maven

If you are a science teacher, you know all about the different science tests. But if you’re a student or parent, you may be wondering about them. You know that the new MCAS 2.0 in English and math have been redesigned to meet more demanding standards of college and career readiness. But what about science?

This year was the first year for computer based MCAS tests in math and English for high school. The science tests are still paper-based, but there will be some field tests of computer-based Biology and Introductory Physics. Parents and students may have some questions. What standards will be tested? What test or tests are required for graduation? What choices do students have?

Test Mechanics and MCAS Prep Tips

Test Mechanics and Prep Tips

JFYNetWorks is offering this webinar to help students prepare for the new MCAS 2.0 Mathematics test, which will be administered to all 10th graders next week. (Grades 3-8 may also still be tested through May 24th.)

All Math MCAS assessments at all grade levels will be online this year. Although the focus of this webinar is primarily for 10th graders, there are applicable examples for all grades. This webinar is designed for teachers, parents and students to help prepare students for the new test format. This will be the first time many 10th graders will see this new online format for the math test, so practice is essential for MCAS success. This webinar provides specific practice examples, formats and test questions provided by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE).

Don’t be surprised on test day. Taking advantage of this webinar-practice is the key to MCAS success.

MCAS 2.0 - 10th Grade Math-Student Prep Pt2

Helping Students Prepare, Part 2

By Joan Reissman, MCAS Maven

Last month I discussed preparing students for the new MCAS 2.0 ELA. In this post I want to offer some suggestions for the mathematics test, coming right up on May 21. As with ELA, the biggest difference is that the test will no longer be paper-based, it will be online. As a student, a teacher or a parent, your first job is to make sure that students get familiar with the mechanics of the online test.

Poetry and the MCAS: Last Minute Tips

Have a strategy for answering the questions.

By Joan Reissman, MCAS Maven

Poetry questions on MCAS can be very difficult for students. Past years’ results for poetry are varied. Students seem to do better with a contemporary poem. For example, in 2018 students were tested on a contemporary poem about a young man who had been jailed and how he used that experience to move his life in a positive direction. Students responded well to this poem and their success in answering the questions verified that: the average score was 89%. In 2017, however, students had to compare T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock” to an excerpt from the novel “The Fault in Our Stars.” The average on these questions was 67% If the poetry excerpt on the practice test is any indication, students will be answering questions on a challenging poem this year. The practice test features the only selection without a comparison between two texts. The poem is an excerpt from “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam,” a medieval poem interpreted and translated in the 19th century. The poem is generally considered a meditation on carpe diem (seize the day), a theme that might seem irrelevant to some students.

Strategies for MCAS Next Gen ELA
MCAS Next Gen 2.0 ELA – Expect greater emphasis on text comparison.

by Joan Reissman, MCAS Maven

The biggest change in the MCAS Next Gen 2.0 ELA test, coming to 10th grade next month, is a greater emphasis on text comparison. Although people read every day, much of the reading students do on the phone or computer is recreational. Nobody is going to quiz you on detailed comprehension after you read something on social media. There is ongoing debate over whether students comprehend better on paper or screen. But it’s academic to us, because Next Gen MCAS is coming on a screen.

New twists and how not to get tangled up

by Joan Reissman, Blended Learning Specialist

There has been a lot of discussion about the new MCAS 2.0 test. Parents and teachers are wondering how they can help students build the skills they need to succeed. The biggest difference is that the test will no longer be on paper. It’s online. Although students use technology every day, that doesn’t mean they will automatically know how to navigate the test. The first step in preparation is to make sure that students understand how to navigate through the test and answer all questions.

Improving Performance on MCAS Math

On MCAS, every point counts.

by Joan Reissman, Blended Learning Specialist

Although ELA has barely ended, MCAS math will be here before you know it on May 23 and 24 for high schools.

It seems obvious that the math formula page is there to help students, but few students really use it. Many questions, including open response items, are easy to solve if they just check their formulas. For example, the 2017 10th grade test had six questions that relied heavily on geometric formulas. There is almost always an open response question derived straight from the formula page. One of the best ways to show students the value of the formula page is to do one of these open response questions in class. And don’t forget the handy tool on the DESE website mentioned in my previous blog— the student work/scoring guides section. You’ll find it very useful for practicing open response.

Last- minute quick tips for the MCAS ELA open response

Simple techniques to improve performance

by Joan Reissman, Blended Learning Specialist
Many students lose points on the ELA open response questions. We know that some students don’t like to write. But even so, we can improve their performance with some simple techniques.

The 2017 average on ELA multiple choice questions was 80%. Yet the average on open response questions was only 68%. The discrepancy is not due to test position: students did best on the first and last questions of the four open response questions (Reading Comprehension section). So how can we help students score at least a 2 or 3 on open responses?