There’s a lot to be said about being prepared for taking a test. One major part of test preparation is content knowledge. If students have a deep understanding of the content, we might assume they would do well on an assessment. Although this seems logical, it is not always true.
Sometimes, the way a question is worded or the vocabulary found in the question stem or the foils (answers) can trip students up. Teachers work hard to teach their Tier 3 vocabulary – vocabulary that is specific to their content, but sometimes, Tier 2 vocabulary isn’t explicitly taught, and these words are often the key to deciphering questions. (Check out this quick overview to vocabulary tiers.)
One way we can work with students to ensure they are prepared for test taking is to use the North Carolina Released Items for EOCs, EOGs, and NCFEs. Teachers can use these items in several ways. First, they can use these items for a content check to ensure students understand the content standards. However, and maybe even more importantly, teachers can gauge how students fare with the reading perseverance, Tier 2 vocabulary, question wording, etc.
Take time to review the released forms in your grade level and content area and use these items as bell ringers, vocabulary overviews, or in explicit instruction. If you are looking for ideas about how to incorporate released items into your instruction, touch base with your administrator or instructional coach.