What Is The Purpose of a Pretest in Geometry?

If you are my student and want a copy of the chapter ten geometry pretest click here. It will open in a new window and it is in pdf format.

I have not used this blog to discuss my thoughts on education and I am not sure if I am ready to blog about all of my views on education, but I have many thoughts on my mind as this school year continues.

My geometry students have not been performing as well as expected on the past two chapter exams, the averages are lower than the previous exams. The main factor for this is because of the type of assessment. The last two chapter tests consisted of 17 multiple choice questions and 2 open ended questions. The set up is similar to the state assessment test and I have changed to this type of assessment to give my students practice taking the state exam. Even my best students get fooled by the trick answers on the multiple choice section. The evidence = lower test scores. My students do well on the open ended questions, but get destroyed on the multiple choice section.

Prior to these chapter tests, all of the questions on chapter tests were open response. Open response questions are more forgiving than a multiple choice question, because of partial credit.  To review for the test I used two class periods one day to complete the review in class. The assignment was to finish the practice for discussion the next day. The review was a practice test and it had the same types of problems on the chapter test except the problems will be in a different order, the answers will be in a different order and different numbers will be used. The second day I provided the answers and modeled any question on the board if a student asked. I spent the entire period doing problems on the board.

A two-thirds majority (32/48 = 67%) stated I did everything I could to prepare them for the test and a lack of studying on their part caused the lower test score. Along with these admissions, there were some very good suggestions:

  • Review games x 3
  • Complete the review problems as a class
  • Having more examples of each problem x 4
  • Along with the answer key on the blog, show a walk through with the multiple choice problems
  • Go over the review more thoroughly
  • Time before the test to ask questions
  • Go over the open ended questions x 2
  • Go over the theorems and postulates more
  • Going over the homework more
  • Criticized me homework policy

I took a few days to think about how to rise to this challenge to improve my student’s achievement. I decided to use a formative assessment prior to the start of the next chapter. I created and administered a pretest in geometry class. Here are the results of the pretest multiple choice section:

Chapter 10 Geometry Pretest Results

Chapter 10 Geometry Pretest Results

I shared the results with my students before the starting the first lesson and explained the set up of the test. It was made clear that the test will be similar. The key differences are the problems will be in a different order, the answers will be in a different order and different numbers will be used. Other than that, the problems are the same. The core of the problem remains intact. I also pointed out that this pretest will be used as a teaching tool to help drive the instruction.

During the first lesson, the students used two handouts: a copy of the geometry pretest and a copy of the guided notes. The first problem was finding the area of a parallelogram and most students got the first problem correct, I quickly showed them the first teacher example and the students completed the next example individually and used the solve pair share technique. It was a nice easy example to set the learning mood and it provided an opportunity to introduce the parts of a parallelogram and introduce the pretest as a learning tool.  At the conclusion of the first two examples, I pointed out that is what the first question on the test is assessing.

The second example was finding the missing height of a parallelogram when the area, the lengths of both bases and the other height is given. Even though this problem is not on the end of chapter exam, it is something neat to discuss and learn. Again, I modeled an example and the students completed the an example using the solve pair share technique.

Similar to the first example, the third example reviewed finding the area of a triangle. As in the first two examples, I modeled an example and I modeled an example and the students completed the an example using the solve pair share technique.

The fourth example required the use of a formula to find the force wind creates when blowing across front or rear face of a barn. Without getting into too much detail, the students got this problem wrong on the practice test because the correct answer is supposed to be in tons, but most of them found the answer in pounds. I do not even need to ask if the problem looked familiar. Most of them reached for their pretest. They see the pretest as a learning tool by the end of the first lesson, sweet! As I did my example, I was given help from students finishing my sentences until we got to the conversion, then everyone became quiet and paid attention. I modeled how to convert pounds to tons using a ratio. For their example, they had to find the answer to the practice test question.

As I revealed the assignment problems, I related the other two test questions from that section to the problems from the assignment. I gave a verbal description on how to do both problems before the students were dismissed. I can not wait until to see the assignments and test results.

Until next time,

Mr. Pi

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