Archive for the testing Category

For high schools, key indicators of student achievement are the Scholastic Aptitute Test (SAT) results with the most commonly cited measure being the average (or mean.)

How are students doing at Deep Run?

The DRHS SAT average  for the seven years of testing juniors and seniors 2004/05 – 2010/11 is 1092.
The DRHS math is 547 and Critical Reading mean is 545.
For the last several years, the math average has been higher than critical reading (a k a English) mirroring state and national data.

The graph below shows the results by school year.

Fortunately we are in an upward trend yet we would love DR students to do even better. Cohorts Freeman and Godwin have higher achievement!

Charting Software
Considering  SAT performance:
It is unlikley that re-testing alone will significantly  increase a student’s SAT score.  (Juniors taking the test again as seniors average only a 40 point gain.)

  • Increasing familiarity with the actual test and focusing on improving the skills tested can result in improved performances. That’s good news!
  • Many students find the writing portion easier than the reading portion. And that is good because the writing portion DOES matter — colleges receive those scores!
  • Research suggests students can improve their math scores more readily than they can improve their Critical Reading (English) scores.

Practicing for the test improves test results and reduces student anxiety.

SAT Strategies Specifically for Test Takers:

Difficult questions count the same as easy questions so a recommended strategy is to answer the easy questions first!  Generally speaking the easiest questions are at the beginning of each section.

It is better to answer every easy question than it is to answer all questions (as points are deducted for wrong answers.)

  • Regarding guessing,  if you are totally stumped, don’t guess! However if you can eliminate two of the answer options, go ahead and guess!
  • Numerous standardized test taking strategies apply to the SAT.  You can find many strategies described here.

In the actual test, be sure to keep track of your time and bubble your test carefully!

Most colleges combine the best SAT scores to get a composite for each student.

All DRHS 11th graders have free access to the SATOnline course — those students are typically enrolled in the course through their English 11 classes.

A wealth of information on the SAT  can be found in School Space > 2013 and 2014 Community Groups > PSAT, SAT and SATOnline folder.

Questions? Contact Mr. G. Metcalf at DRHS.

Ice Breaker > Please Take This Google Docs Assessment Confidence Survey!

You can view the survey results here:
Use the Form Menu > Show Summary of Responses to see group choices in graph form.

An Overview Article to Read –How Classroom Assessments Improve Learning

Introductions (and How Might We Do This Work?)
What Is Balanced Assessment Anyway?

Who is Rick Stiggins and What Does He Say?
Use this guide while watching the video > Assessments Of and For Learning

What Does Research Say About Formative Assessment?

Here’s An Article You Can Share: What a Difference A Word Makes!

Oh no, not another Power Point Presentation…
Here is the talking points file (the presented content is in the notes section of each slide!)

Some students consider the VA SOL tests a game. If so, they are a very important game!

Take them seriously in order to do your best. Here are some proven ways to do just that.

Think Like Test Makers:
SOL tests consist of multiple choice questions that contain the leading part of the question (“the stem”) followed by four plausible answers (or “alternatives.”)

  • One of the alternatives is the best answer and will be the correct response. 
  • The other alternatives are called “distractors” (as they may confuse an uncertain student.)
  • Multiple choice tests are easy to construct and easy to score; that is why they are used in most standardized tests.
  • That does not mean multiple choice tests are easy! 
  • The test creators write questions to determine what students know so don’t overthink the questions.

The objective is to select the right answer on enough questions to pass the test!

  • Answering multiple choice questions is often an exercise in understanding what you’ve read as much as demonstrating what you know.
  • Be sure to read carefully!
  • You are not taking the test ‘cold’ as you have been exposed to the content the test is measuring ALL YEAR LONG. 
  • There will be some questions that are very easy and some that will be hard for everyone taking the test. 
  • The number of questions you need to get right in order to pass the test is called the “cut score.” 
  • Your ultimate goal is to pass the test.  You need to show the test makers that you can correctly reply on at least 60% of the questions but don’t set your sights low! In order to receive a “pass-advanced” score, you need to get over 80% of the questions correct!
 Your task is to fully show what you know!
Preparing For The Tests:
  • Review for each test by looking over class notes and especially old tests. 
  • On your laptop, practice with the NCS Pearson testing software so you are familiar with the online SOL testing environment.
  •  Spend time answering questions at practice test sites such as Jefferson Lab ( or the City of Poquoson VA site (

The Day of the Test:
Eat a healthy breakfast and get a good night’s sleep!

  • A positive attitude makes a lot of difference; keep your confidence up!
  • Constantly remind yourself that you will be successful and keep your attention on doing well on the test(s). Positive self-talk works!

Essential Behaviors During the Tests:

  • Stay in the moment (that is, remain focused) throughout the test doing your best on each question.
  • If you find yourself momentarily distracted, take a quick mental break (e.g., stretch, yawn, close your eyes for a few seconds, breathe deeply through your nose) and then return to the test.
  • Move through the test answering questions that are easy for you. 
    You can return to the difficult questions later (and you should mark those questions for review!)

Try answering each question BEFORE looking the distractors.

  • After reading the stem, answer it as though it was a short answer question. 
  • Anticipate the answer and then look for it!
  • Use the Test Nav software tools to highlight key words in the stem.
  • On math questions, solve the problems or draw diagrams on paper first and then search for your answers! 

Eliminate wrong choices by adding each alternative to the stem and treat the new sentence as a TRUE-FALSE statement. 

  • If the added alternative makes the new sentence false, disregard this distractor and move to the next option. 
  • Use the Test Nav software tools to cross out ‘incorrect’ distractors.
  • Read EVERY alternative before selecting your answer.
  • When the new sentence becomes true AND answers the question, you have found the best alternative and most likely the correct answer.

Some questions may include qualifiers such as the word “not.” 

  • These questions are asking you to make exceptions, to identify things that are not true, or to select the least desired response. 
  • Be careful with these kinds of questions as processing “negative information” is difficult. 
  • Spend time determining what the question is actually asking!


During the test, keep a ‘running score’ on scrap paper detailing how you feel about your answer to EACH question. 

  • Make a chart with ‘Confident’, ‘Not Sure’ and ‘No Clue’ as the three column titles in your table. 
  • As you answer each question, put the question number in one of three columns. 
  • Use the Test Nav ‘review’ button to mark questions you’ve place in the ‘Not Sure’ and ‘No Clue’ categories so you can easily return to these questions when you are through with the untimed test.

Yes, the tests are NOT timed so be quick but don’t hurry! 

  • Move through the test answering questions you know and be sure to mark them in the ‘Confident’ column. 
  • For questions you are “not sure” or have “no clue” about, leave them blank BUT mark them for review so you can return to them later in the test.

Generally speaking, your first answer choice is the most accurate.  HOWEVER if you feel confident that you need to change the answer you’ve selected, go ahead and make the change.

The state SOL tests are NOT designed to trick you. 

  • Don’t let the difficult questions distract you. 
  • There will be questions you don’t know and questions you don’t understand. 
  • Remember, mark these questions for review and come back to them. 
  • Don’t overthink a question.  
  • When you finally answer it, put the question number in the appropriate column: Confident, Not Sure, No Clue.

Remember, SOL questions are designed to test what you should know in terms of essential course content and basic skills. 

  • The questions are going to be grammatically correct with every distractor plausible. 
    Remember to read every answer option!
  • Crossing out incorrect distractors improves your odds when you have to ultimately choose an answer. 
  • There is NO penalty for guessing so never leave an question unanswered.
  • Why read every answer option?
    • The most likely distractor (that is, the most correct WRONG answer) is often placed early in the list of answers.  
      Consider reading the list of alternatives from D to A (and J to F) as a test taking strategy.
      Again, don’t select an answer without reading all of the answer options.

If the question includes a graph, diagram or reading passage, be sure to carefully read the provided resource to determine the best answer. 

  • Concentrate on one question at a time using all the information provided within the question. 

Analyze your running score (your record of how confident you were about each question. )

  • Continue to work on the “not sure” and “no clue” questions using the set of test-taking strategies previously explained and TestNav’s “mark for review”option.
  • Add up the number of questions you put in the Confident column before submitting your test.

Your goal is to have at least 80% of the questions in the Confident column (as you may still miss questions about which you feel confident.)

Prepare for the test, do your best and use the strategies above to show your stuff! 

This could really be a powerful teaching tool!