Tips to Try
Here are some tips that might help increase self-esteem among students, thereby increasing the chances of successful state benchmarks:
1. Have students practice the benchmark tests (released items) a lot. But don't make it only about the test. Try to incorporate items from the tests into your regular lessons so that students think of it as just another homework assignment. Over time, students may begin to see the test released items as just another part of their assignments. It might even be a good idea not to tell them which items are test released items. In this way, they believe it is just a part of the regular course-work, and by the process of desensitization, they will get used to the challenge.
2. Put students into groups and have them compare answers with each other until they figure them out.
3. Use it as an extra credit assignment to increase motivation.
4. Offer rewards for higher performing students on benchmark practice tests.
5. Send progress reports to parents which show their progress over time, on focused benchmark released items. Brag on students who do exceptionally better than the last time.
6. Have students perform visualization techniques or other relaxation methods with the help of a counselor. Test anxiety is one of the major reasons people do poorly on tests.
7. Ask your administrators to hold assemblies recognizing students for improved benchmark scores.
8. Have a face-to-face conference with individual students. Explain to them that you only expect them to do their best, but that you will not expect any less than their best.
9. Have friendly class contest on individual released items to see who does the best.
10. Remind students to use their accommodations such as extended time, etc., as well as reference sheets and other tools allowed on the tests, reminding them that the test is not a race, and they should not just hurry through the test to get done.
Research shows that peer tutoring may also help special education students in increasing their confidence in their own abilities, and it also appears to be significant how high the level of confidence special educators feel that they are able to improve test scores among special needs kids.(1)
If you apply the tips from this article, you may start to see some improvements among the special ed students, and at the very least, increase their confidence in the ability to do better than they have done in the past.