With the beginning of spring semester comes many decisions regarding ways to help struggling students grasp the required standards before state assessments. Teachers often turn to online instructional materials to help reinforce the concepts and skills for these students. Many online materials offer formative assessments, individualized learning paths, reteach lessons, and various reports on student learning. If used correctly, these online instructional materials can be valuable tools in differentiating instruction.

In order for online instructional materials to be effective with struggling students, some important points should be considered regarding pre-assessments.

(1)  Review the pre-test to check that enough questions are provided to assess mastery for that particular standard.  Too few questions can lead to inaccurate diagnostic determinations.

(2)  Carefully read each pre-test question to make sure it will help you determine the students’ needs.  You may want to add or delete questions within the tests to provide the best diagnostic information as possible.

(3) Analyze the questions on the pre-assessment test to check that they are aligned to the 3C’s of the standards- content, context, and cognitive rigor. (See previous post on 3C’s)  Many online program test questions are aligned only to the content of the standard. One major reason that students fail the state assessments is because the formative assessments and instruction provided are not aligned to the depth and complexity of the standards.

Future blog posts will discuss additional points to consider when using online instructional materials effectively with struggling students.