Mar 20, 2018
Tutors have alternatives to test scores when it comes to tracking student sentiment, progress and other benchmarks in tutoring sessions. By focusing on more than just the test score, oftentimes better test scores will follow.
Standardized testing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Just as more states are moving beyond test scores to measure student (and teacher) performance, tutors have every reason to follow suit. After all, the tutor-client relationship is a more personal bond than students will often experience with their school teachers.
While the test score remains an important indicator of how well a student comprehends subject material, tutors have multiple--and in some ways, more meaningful--tools to track student progress and other key benchmarks. Test scores, then, are just another tool and not the be-all, end-all, to assessing your students’ academic strengths and weaknesses.
Just Being There Counts
Study after study has shown that educators have a strong effect on students’ non-cognitive skills and happiness. In fact, recent research indicates that long-term student success takes things tests can’t teach, like resilience and curiosity.
The growing awareness that effective education is more than a number game has led to the rise of social and emotional learning (SEL) methods: in other words, being an effective educator is a qualitative, and not just quantitative, exercise.
Tutors can put SEL into practice by encouraging their students to look inwards when preparing for an exam, and using emotion words when talking to students about issues they encounter in the learning process. Talk through problems rather than ignore them. For example, if a student is struggling with a particular subject, ask how the subject material makes the student feel. Are they frustrated with the overall material, or is there an impediment that you can identify and work past together?
And if your student ever fails an assignment or test, teach them to see failure not as an end in itself but as a learning opportunity.
It may sound simplistic but the research is pretty clear: students become more effective in the learning process when their educators are actively engaged in supporting their wellbeing. What’s more, students who are better equipped with social and emotional skills are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, and enjoy longer-term physical and mental health.
Think Outside the Box
Problem-based learning approaches integrate student learning with real life outside the classroom and are increasingly popular in schools. Tutors can easily adapt these learning methods in your tutoring sessions.
For instance, use digital portfolios so students can see, track, and reflect critically on their own academic development. In fact, some educators have found that when students have a stake in tracking their own performance, they are more confident and effective learners.
Focus on the Bigger Picture
When educators see more than just test scores, so do students. The result is happier, more well-adjusted students, and a more meaningful picture of how well your students understand a subject and how well they’ll approach future obstacles in school and beyond.