Tuesday, January 31, 2012

CAHSEE and Others -- High School Exit Exam Math Preparation

Many states require exit exams in math for high school students. The plan here focuses on preparation for the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), but it can help students prepare for any summative high school math exam. California state materials and NROC resources, including resources from Algebra 1—An Open Course and from the Khan Academy Collection on Hippocampus.org, are used.

Learning Objective(s)
•    Review and practice math standards for a high school exit exam.

Assessment Type
This is for any high school math class or study group preparing for a general knowledge math exit exam. Before beginning the review, the instructor should look at the topics covered by the exam and plan accordingly.

Assignment Details

You have many preparation options for a cumulative math exam. The key things are: Begin early. Identify gaps. Fill gaps. Practice. Retest and recap. Many links identify information by topic, so if you’re working with a similar math exit exam from another state, these should still be helpful to you!

1.    Begin Early. Plan on one week of work per review topic. Shorten this if needed or if you’re only doing test preparation and not also working on other class material. Be sure to pepper later weeks with warm up questions from previously reviewed topics.

2.    Identify Gaps.  Have your students take a diagnostic test. They can do this at home or in class, but I do recommend grading in class so students are not tempted to cheat. Paper can be saved if you have access to a computer lab where each student can work separately. For the CAHSEE, the practice test linked here is a good one. Results can be checked with the key posted in the Appendix or use the CAHSEE Practice Test Key and Histogram I made that divides problems by topic. Even if preparing for another state’s test, look at the topics covered by the CAHSEE practice test. Based on topics covered, you might be able to use this practice test and histogram as a diagnostic tool.

3.    Fill Gaps. If your student has missed only a few problems, it might be best for him/her to only review what went wrong on those problems. For the CAHSEE, the link here leads to videos that explain the solution to each practice test problem.

For in-depth Review by Topic follow the link here. Topics covered are as follow: 

Number Sense- Fractions, percents, roots, decimals, proportions, scientific notation
Probability and Statistics- Basic probability, data analysis (graphs, mean, median, mode)
Algebra and Functions- Solve a linear equation, generalize patterns, make a symbolic expression from a written one, know slope, evaluate an expression, identify functions
Measurement and Geometry- Convert between units of measure, scale, translate objects, perimeter, area, volume, Pythagorean Theorem.
Math Reasoning- Recognize and generalize patterns, organize information, use logic in conjectures.
Algebra 1- Simplify polynomials and expressions, absolute value, roots, match graphs to linear equations, find slopes, intercepts, parallel lines, solve linear inequalities, rate, work and mixture problems, systems of equations.

4.    Practice.  Practice should occur both in class and at home. If you have access, you can pull problems from many practice problems in NROC’s Algebra 1--An Open Course. These are also listed by topic. Otherwise, pull questions from textbooks or the 2008 CAHSEE Released Test Questions. (Note: These are listed by topic and answer keys appear after each topic. They repeat the example and practice questions provided after the worked example questions linked to above).

5.    Review and Retest. Create or find a new practice test for your students. If you’re doing the CAHSEE, you can select the problems you want from those linked above to make a new test. Don’t worry about repeating old questions as long as you mix up the order. Use questions you don’t select for review games. In fact, you may wish to do a brief review game at the end of each week to keep topics fresh.

Instructor Notes
•    Look over the practice test results. Recruit high-scoring students as in-class tutors and/or helpers. Excuse them from review homework as a reward.
•    Tell your students to circle or mark any problem that they were unsure of, or on which they guessed the answer. Even if they guessed right, they should review that problem.
•    Out of time? Have students take the CAHSEE practice test and self grade with the histogram. At home, they should view the recorded CAHSEE practice test solutions taking notes for credit. 

The first practice test should be participation credit, not percent correct, since you’re using it as a diagnostic rather than a cumulative tool. For in-class and weekly work, one can assign completion of practice problems and/or notes on recordings for homework.

The second practice test can be graded on percent correct and count as much as a regular end-of-chapter test in order to encourage students to take it seriously. Alternately, a score of more than a certain amount might be traded for an extension on a homework assignment or replace one low score on a previous test. A final option is to have a high score on this test count as an extra credit coupon (say, 5%) toward their final exam.

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