Hey friends! This is about the time of year where the newness has worn off, and we are in it for the long haul. We all know what lies ahead… and that’s TESTING!
Several years ago, I had an administrator tell me that if a concept is taught well, then end-of-year state testing would take care of itself. In a perfect world, that would be the case. Our faculty was then banned from implementing test prep of any sort. Needless to say… our results were not what she expected.
Should concepts be taught thoroughly? Of course.
Should teachers “teach to the test”? Of course not.
Should our students receive instruction that prepares them to successfully navigate a standardized test? I certainly believe so.
Like it or not, high stakes testing is a reality that isn’t going away anytime soon. So, when I was contacted by We Are Teachers about writing a product review for Mastery Education’s Measuring Up test prep materials, I jumped at the chance. I have used Measuring Up work texts in the past, but the new Measuring Up materials are so much more than just workbooks!
I teach in Texas, and we are not a Common Core state. We follow the Texas Essential Knowledge Skills, or TEKS (we Texans embrace the spirit of doing things our way!). I was sent four Measuring Up work texts that are aligned with the TEKS; two types of texts for science and two types for math. I also received log-in info so that I could demo Measuring Up Live 2.0 (this is what I was the most excited about).
So, let’s get an overview of the two types of texts I was sent. For both math and science, I received a) Measuring Up to the TEKS student editions, and b) Measuring Up Express student editions. (For my Texas peeps… the science texts are aligned to the new Streamlined TEKS!)
I’ll start with the basic Measuring Up to the TEKS work texts.
First of all, the Measuring Up to the TEKS is available for Grades 2- 8 for Reading, Math, Science, and Writing in English and Spanish, and in print and digital formats. Because I’m a science and math teacher and these were the subject areas that I received books for, I’m going to focus on these subjects.
The math text offers the following:
- Clearly defined academic vocabulary that helps to ensure conceptual understanding
- Step-by-step problem solving and guided questions to develop comprehension
- Opportunities to demonstrate higher-order thinking skills and explain problem-solving logic in every lesson
- Multi-step and dual-coded questions for practice in STAAR® format
- New focus on Financial Literacy
There is a single lesson for every single TEKS, and each lesson is divided into five sections in which the individual TEKS are introduced, explained and applied, and independently practiced. At the end of each chapter there is a “Building Stamina® for the STAAR” practice test that offers multiple choice and griddable format questions.
The science work text offers:
- 100% customization to the Science TEKS (again… the new Streamlined TEKS).
- Scaffolded learning with guided instruction.
- Help for students to use writing to communicate science concepts
The lessons in the science text are also divided into five sections like the math text described above. One difference is that the guided instruction component offers written text with vocabulary in context (the math guided instruction is more of a step-by-step procedural explanation for how to successfully master the skill being taught). Another difference is that quite a few lessons are scaffolded to include the correlating supporting standards from previous grades.
Click here or on either of the links above for free sample lessons!
Now let’s look at the Measuring Up Express products.
Measuring Up Express focuses on TEKS review and test prep, is available for reading and math for grades 3-8 and for science in grades 5 and 8, and offers:
- Academic vocabulary, highlighted and used in context for thorough understanding
- STAAR® Tips to broaden students’ ability to navigate rigorous items
- An emphasis on critical thinking to prepare students for the rigor of the STAAR®
- STAAR®-emulated practice questions included in every lesson to boost student confidence
Click here, or on either of the links just above, to download free sample lessons.
Measuring Up Express works in tandem with the Measuring Up to the TEKS as a platform for skills review and extension. Not only is it perfect for test prep, but I think it’s compact format lends itself to homework, quizzes, and quick skills reviews when time is limited.
My absolute favorite component of the products that I previewed is Measuring UP Live 2.0. It is available for grades 1-8+, and I was allowed to demo both as a teacher and as a student. I started by logging in as a student and launching the student tests that were made available to me, which were aligned to New Jersey standards and the PARCC test. Being that I teach in Texas, I’m not familiar with the New Jersey standards, but I felt that they were pretty rigorous questions. Check out my scratch paper!
Most online resources that I have ever used have been aligned to Common Core standards, so the fact that Live 2.0 is available for the TEKS is (in my humble opinion) pretty, stinkin’ awesome!
On the teacher end, there are a lot of options for creating tests and practice materials from a huge bank of questions. I created a quick test (again, New Jersey standards), and it was super easy. Once the test is created you can assign it to students to complete online, or you can download as a word document or pdf. There is so much offered in the Live 2.0 component from that I can’t do justice to it in a single blog post. In a nutshell you can expect:
- Online, dynamic assessment, instruction and practice
- Custom formative assessment
- Robust item bank
- Data-driven instructional support.
- Prescribed, personal, adaptive practice
Check out this quick video for more info:
Personally, I really like the Measuring Up products (I wouldn’t write this blog post if I didn’t), and I’m going to talk to my administrator about purchasing them for my campus. I like that the Measuring Up to the TEKS provides actual lessons for skills and steps students through each lesson from guided instruction to independent practice, while the Measuring Up Express is perfect for reviewing the skills taught and for test prep. I highly encourage you to check out their website. They have so much more information than I can share here and plenty of free lessons that you can download and give a spin. If you’re interested in more information, here are a couple of more links that you might find helpful:
- National Dropout Prevention Center’s evaluation of Measuring Up reveals students experienced substantial academic progress
- How Curriculum-Based Assessment Improves Education
Until next time…
Y’all have a great week!