Teaching math is hard. Teaching math so it is engaging but helps to improve test scores is even harder!
Throw in the requirement to differentiate that math instruction and you may just want to pull your hair out. I know I wanted to!
How do you go about creating individualized lessons for 25-35 students who are across multiple different levels of math skills? You might be looking at teaching math at 4-6 different levels.
Before you start to hyperventilate on me, let me just say that there are ways to make the process a little easier.
Finding Ways to Improve Test Scores
If you have a math program, it is probably already differentiated into 3 levels.
- Below (or Approaching) Level
- On Level
- Above Level
You should definitely be taking advantage of that resource! There are loads of ways you can mix and match your math program to meet the needs of the majority of your students.
There may be some resources included in that program that are meant to help improve test scores, but if it is anything like the programs I have gone through, it is a little lacking!
Filling in with resources that help improve test scores and build student math skills comes next. There are a number of different test-taking resources that will help students testing skills. That alone could boost your math scores. Tests are hard. Throw in a lack of confidence and a little anxiety and they become even harder!
Does Your District MAP Test?
Our district is really big on the MAP test. As a teacher, I really love the way the information is provided on the back end so I can use that to help my students improve their math skills. It isn’t all about the test scores. It is also about them growing as students.
The first few times that I looked at the MAP data, I was completely overwhelmed.
There is a ton of information shoved into that data!!
And where do you even begin to break it down, figure out what works best for each student, put it back together, and then teach all those lessons at different levels so they are all getting the most out of your instruction?
Just writing that sentence gave me a little anxiety!
RIT Bands are your friend when it comes to improving test scores. You need to sit down and break your students into groups based on their RIT band for math. There will be a few outliers in the data. Just fit them into the closest RIT band for now.
Once you have them grouped by RIT band, you can start looking at the standards that are covered by each RIT band. There will be a variety of grade-level concepts that are covered in each band. You can focus on the grade-level that you teach or you can bring in other resources that help cover those standards.
Using your re-teach resources in your math program is one great way to do this. As well as the enrichment resources.
You can also find resources on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Why I Design Resources for Test Scores and Math Skills
When I moved grade levels, I was teaching a third and fourth-grade combo class. I had to figure out how to differentiate my instruction for TWO grades. Looking at all the data made me want to cry.
Searching on TPT didn’t give me any resources at that time. There was NOTHING for my grade levels!!
That is when I decided to create my own resources to use in my classroom. I started with creating task cards for the RIT band that had the most kids in it. This way, I could use the materials for centers as well as small group instruction. They could also be used for SCOOTs during whole group instruction and individual practice.
From there, I worked my way up and down the RIT bands and through the different math skills, until I had resources that worked for all my kids.
Next, there were the worksheets. This gave me a way to access what skills my students were grasping and which ones I needed to cover more in-depth. They could be used as bell work or a quick lesson before a transition. The information they gave me allowed me to adjust my instruction and course of action when lesson planning.
It also works great with assigning content in Moby Max if your district uses that as a resource as well.
Increase Math Skills by Providing Differentiation
Differentiating your students’ math practice will help to improve test scores. Students need to work at a level that is appropriate to their math skill so they aren’t continually frustrated.
It is okay to expose them to a higher RIT band to help them be introduced to a new concept. It is also okay to let them work in a lower RIT band to review concepts that they have already mastered.
Differentiation is overwhelming. But it is possible to find a way to fit all the needs of your students while still keeping your sanity!