As I reviewed the second grade expectation and poured over the data, I soon realized that it wasn't that the children didn't understand the stories. The problem was that they didn't understand the format in which they were being asked. In order to show what they knew, they needed some work in test-taking strategies. They needed to know how to bubble in the entire circle so there was no mistaking which answer they marked. They needed to know that they should read all the answers before marking one, because the BEST answer might be the last choice. They needed to know how the test writer might try to "trick" them by giving them answers that were "almost" right and so on.
Exactly which test taking strategies did children need to know in first grade and how were we going to teach them? As we discussed all of this over time in first grade and in second grade and with the grade levels combined, we began to shape a policy that made sense for both grade levels. Finally, with the help of second and third grade teachers, we developed a list of strategies for first graders, an order in which they would be taught and some suggestions on how best to teach the strategies each week before they were tested on Friday.
Because of the extensive work done by first grade teachers, the second grade teachers now know exactly what skills children should come to them with and where to begin their own teaching.