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5 Teaching Strategies to Help Boost Test Scores

Janelle Cox

With the implementation of the Common Core State Standards throughout the country, an effort to improve student test scores is frequently on the minds of most teachers and administrators. Although tests scores have increased over the past few years, they still may not be where you want them to be in your school district.

While it’s important for schools to be on the same page and raise test scores together as a whole, there are a few things that you can do in your classroom by yourself. Here are five teaching strategies that can help you increase student test scores in your classroom.

1. Teaching Strategies to Improve Student Study Skills

The number one thing that you can do as a teacher is improve your students’ study skills. All too often, teachers give out homework and tell their students when they are going to have a test, but they fail to teach them how to study for that test. In order for students to be successful on their test, then teachers must give them the skills and habits that will help them solidify the information. Here’s how.

  • Teach them to set their priorities straight. Studying is their number one priority before leisure.
  • Take time to teach them how to set goals. Discuss how setting their priorities and goals will help them with their study habits.
  • Managing their time is another way to improve their study skills. Have them take out their priority and goal lists and figure out the best way to manage their time.
  • Finally creating a study plan. Help students figure out how they learn best (flash cards, technology games, etc.). Then, help students create an individual plan that works for them.

2. Give Students In-School Reading Practice

Many teachers implement D.E.A.R time which means “Drop Everything And Read.” For about 15 to 30 minutes a day, students drop what they are doing and quietly read a book of their choice. Research has shown that the longer you implement this “reading time,” the higher your test scores will be. This daily reading practice helps students gain reading comprehension skills, which in turn improves test scores. For older students who do not get the opportunity to have this essential reading time each day, teachers can still incorporate in-school reading time. They can do this by creating innovative book activities. Here are a few ideas that students can choose from.

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  • Write a letter to the author of the book. Include any questions you have about the story, and talk about what your favorite part was.
  • If you are reading a biography, create an illustration of what your famous person is known for doing.
  • Pretend you are the author of the book and make up an alternative ending to the story.

3. Give Homework Every Day

This is a controversial issue. You either are a teacher that is for homework or you are against it. But, five to 15 minutes of reviewing what you did in class, or taking the time to read over the feedback that you got on your paper, will help to congeal what you had just learned that day. If you want your students to boost their test scores, they will need to review what they are learning each and every day. Even playing a review game on the iPad can be considered homework.

4. Give Students a Brain Break

There have been numerous studies about how children need a short mental break throughout the school day. Studies show that letting students move around for about five to 15 minutes a day will not boost test scores, but reduce behavior issues as well. Here are a few fun brain break ideas that you can try in your classroom.

  • Put on some music and let students freeze dance. When the music stops they freeze, when it starts they dance.
  • Classroom yoga where students get up and do a few different yoga moves.
  • “Simon Says” is another classic game that gets students up and moving. It's also a game that you can end after two or ten minutes.

5. Increase Parental Involvement

Maintaining a solid parent-teacher communication throughout the school year is the key to student success. Studies have shown that students tend to do better in school when their parent or guardian is involved. Here are a few ways to keep parents informed with their child's education and encourage them to get involved.

  • Let parents volunteer when it is convenient for them. Create an open-door policy where parents can help out and get involved a certain times throughout the week.
  • Give parents the option to choose from any of the following: Lunchroom monitor, crossing guard, tutor, library aid, concession stand worker for school events.
  • A great way for parents to interact with the teacher and school outside of the classroom is to become involved in parent-teacher organizations.

As a teacher, you can only do so much. Your main goal is to see each and every one of your students succeed. Just by reading this article you are doing something. You are taking the time to find ways to get your students to improve. That in itself is enough.

Do you have any tricks or tips to help your students boost their test scores? Please comment in the section below, we would love to hear your ideas.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.