Diagnostic Testing is a detailed description of the comprehensive diagnostic testing program our students must follow. We find it's the best way to determine precisely which topics have been problems and exactly where to begin. This enables us to plan a series of lessons tailored to a student's needs and recommend a specific number of hours per week for him to attain his academic goals.
This page covers the following topics:
Every student we place with you must undergo our comprehensive diagnostic testing program during the first lesson. It's the only way to discover exactly what he knows, which topics are a source of trouble and where you'll need to begin. This gives you the objective evidence you'll need to plan a series of lessons specific to your student and to offer a professional recommendation about how much work will be needed to excel. Just as a doctor uses diagnostic tests, so you'll need to thoroughly examine each new student in order to properly advise the family.
When we first speak with a potential client, we describe the key aspects of our comprehensive testing program as follows:The most important fact about a tutoring service is how they conduct lessons. Well, here's how we conduct ours: When you see a doctor, you expect a thorough examination so he can find out what's wrong and help you get well. Likewise, we always begin with a comprehensive diagnostic test to pinpoint the student's strengths and weaknesses. Since most educational problems develop out of gaps in basic topics, we design the test to identify any deficiencies standing in the way. As you can see, this approach actually reduces the number of lessons needed for improvement and thereby saves you money. We spend the rest of the first lesson teaching topics not yet mastered, beginning with those which first caused trouble. At lesson's end, we advise you how many hours per week he'll need to overcome his difficulties but, naturally, you'll make the final decision and all future lessons will be scheduled exactly as you wish. At each lesson, we write up extensive notes and assign homework for practice and review.
We subsequently send a letter to every new client which repeats all this and details the other facets of our diagnostic testing program not yet covered.
Why is this comprehensive diagnostic testing program so important to us? Simple! Because it's so effective. We asked hundreds of students and parents whether they were satisfied with the lessons they'd received from our tutors. Their reply's were amazingly consistent. Whenever the tutor didn't fully implement our comprehensive diagnostic testing program, very few lessons took place, frequently just one or two, the student showed little if any progress and the parents decided to seek help elsewhere. On the other hand, whenever the tutor completely carried out our comprehensive diagnostic testing program, many lessons took place, frequently two or three a week, and the student exhibited tremendous improvement. In these cases, we had a win-win-win-win situation: the student was happy he did so well, the parents were happy the student made so much progress, the tutor was happy his tutoring was so effective and we were happy our service came through with flying colors.
To be sure, you'll occasionally run into a parent who's never satisfied or an unmotivated student who's very resistant. Unfortunately, there's little we can do about this. But it's totally unacceptable if a parent's dissatisfaction or a students failure to progress is due to actions (or lack of actions) on the part of the tutor. Obviously, we cannot allow this if we wish to stay in business as a successful and effective tutoring service.
So, you can easily see why we're so committed to our comprehensive diagnostic testing program. Moreover, we get very angry if a tutor forces us to become liars by choosing to conduct lessons differently than the way we represented them to the client. Obviously, we cannot nor will not tolerate tutors whose actions force us to break our promises to clients. Accordingly, we'll dispense with your services if we discover you haven't fully carried out our comprehensive diagnostic testing with every student we place with you.
Remember, we require you to carry out our complete comprehensive diagnostic testing program with ALL students we place with you, even ones who've previously had lessons with you, either in the same or a different course. Never assume you know a student's current academic situation from any past contact you may have had with him.
With these considerations in mind, we'll now tell you about the three distinct stages of our diagnostic testing program: the initial telephone conversation with the family, the first lesson with the student and the tutor's final recommendations.
Your first call to a new student's parents is not just a brief conversation solely to set a date for the first lesson. Rather, this is when you tell them what they must do so you can do your job properly. Start by stating your name and the name of our tutoring service. Ask them to give you the student's current and previous report card, quiz and exam grades and to look up prior to the first lesson those they couldn't recall. Tell them about the diagnostic test you'll give him at the first lesson. Direct them to make sure he brings home his text book, notebook, quiz papers and homework papers for you to examine while he works on the diagnostic test. Have them procure a notebook so you can write notes, a loose-leaf binder and paper so he can do your homework assignments and a good supply of pencils with erasers so he can do and correct problems. Explain both parts of our cancellation policy. Set a date and time for the first lesson and make sure they write down your name and number. Ask them to tell you what topics have given him difficulty and, if they can't remember, recite a list of important topics to which they'll respond Trouble or No trouble. Finally, ask them to show you any evaluations made by the classroom teacher.
Since all these things are part of our comprehensive diagnostic testing program, your first call to a new student's parents will most likely last five to ten minutes. We have no objection if you tell the student some or all of these things, perhaps because the parents have requested you to or you feel the student should know. Nevertheless, if you do so, you must still fully inform the parents because they're the ones responsible for the student and paying the bills.
When you place your first call to a new student's family, you must realize there are four possible outcomes or scenarios: 1) SUCCESS -- You reach the parents and they agree to set up a first appointment. 2) NO CONTACT -- There's no answer or the line is bust. 3) LEFT A MESSAGE -- You leave a message for the parents to call back, either with an answering machine or with another person. 4) CHANGED MIND -- The parents tell you they're not ready to set up a first appointment.
We expect you to follow these four scenarios precisely as described in Important Procedures. If we have to chase after you either because you're not following them exactly or because you're not giving us a full report each day you attempted to set up a first appointment with a new client, we may stop placing students with you altogether. Also, we expect you to call us immediately within 24 hours if, for any reason, you're unable to take on a new student. We become quite upset when we lose a student because a tutor delayed in telling us about his unavailability. In fact, behavior like this is tantamount to taking money out of our pockets. Put yourself in our place: If our negligence causes you to lose income, how would you feel? Well, we'd feel exactly the same! So, to reduce the possibility of delay in placing a new student with a tutor, you must inform us both when you plan to be out of town more than one day and when you're too busy to add new students to your schedule.
Here's why we insist you follow these scenarios exactly as described and not attempt contacting a new client more frequently than we specified. Before we write up a new student and place him with a tutor, we ask the parents whether they'll be ready to set up a definite first appointment when the tutor calls. If we get a DEFINITE Yes!, we go on. If, on the other hand, we hear hesitation or reticence, especially about the fee, we suggest they take additional time to thing it over and call us back later when they're actually ready to begin. So, we'll never place a student with you unless we firmly believe the parents definitely want one of our tutors, can pay for the lessons and intend to set up a first appointment when you call. Therefore, never leave more than three messages with an answering machine or a live person. Certainly, a machine man malfunction or someone can fail to deliver a message once, or even twice. But, it's extremely unlikely to happen three times. Likewise, if the parents tell you they're not prepared to begin lessons, we definitely don't want you to call them back under any circumstances. For instance, they may tell you they-re not ready right now but, if you call back in a week or two, they'll surely be ready. Noway! You definitely DON'T agree to call them back; tell them they MUST call you when they're prepared to start. You just leave your name and number, report the situation to us and then forget it. If the parents don't return your call after three messages or tell you they're not prepared to begin, they're clearly not willing to honor the promise they made about being ready to set up an appointment when you called. Frankly, we simply have neither time nor respect for those who don't keep their word.
There are four additional items we expect you always to keep in mind. First, placing students with you doesn't mean we're giving them to you; all such students remain ours. So, we expect you to inform us if someone we previously placed with you contacts you directly to restart lessons. Second, never change any arrangements we've made with the family, including such items as lesson location (the student's home or your home), the hourly fee and the subjects to be taught without first obtaining our approval. In fact, don't even suggest changes to the client unless you first check them out with us. If a client does request a change, ask them to discuss it with us first; you simply have no authority to make the change yourself. Third, we specialize in private one-to-one tutoring which is the most effective and fastest way for students to progress. Since it's how we and the parents expect our tutors to operate, don't ever tutor two students simultaneously with consulting us and obtaining our approval first. Finally, make all appointments with the parents and never with the student (unless the student is paying for his own lessons). If the parents tell you to set up the first appointment directly with the student, you nevertheless must inform them of the arrangements you've made and secure their approval before reporting it to us.
During the first half of the first lesson, administer a diagnostic test to your student. You may choose any of the following five options: 1) You may use a test we provided with no changes. 2) You may use a test we provided augmented with additional questions of your own creation. 3) You may compose your own test, as long as it's as comprehensive as ours. 4) You may purchase a standardized test from a publisher, as long as it's as comprehensive as ours. 5) If you're a classroom teacher, you may be able to obtain a standardized test where you teach. We don't care which options you choose to follow, just as long as it reveals exactly what your student needs to master the course and permits you to formulate a sound recommendation for the family at the end of the first lesson.
Before your student begins doing the diagnostic test, you'll need to spend a few moments questioning him. Let's see how our Arithmetic Diagnostic Test might be administered to a grade school, GED or SAT student. This is a comprehensive test, covering whole numbers, fractions, decimals and percents. Before starting the test, ask him if he can add, subtract, multiply and divide whole numbers. If his answer is Yes! or I'm pretty sure!, then have him do all the whole number questions on the test to verify that he can really can do what he says he can do. (We have found that, with very few exceptions, almost everyone who believes they know the work in fact perform extremely poorly on most questions dealing with that topic.) If his answer is No!, then eliminate all whole number questions from the test and, instead, plan several lessons devoted to a thorough teaching of whole number skills, including complete explanations of basic concepts, technical words and methods, extensive written notes, lots of model examples, ample practice during the lesson and ample homework assignments. In short, plan to spend as much time on whole number skills as you would in teaching a class new to whole numbers. Ask the same question about fractions, decimals and percents and, in each case, follow a similar course of action depending upon the response given. Naturally, this questioning should only include topics which are part of the student's syllabus. For example, the fifth grade math curriculum includes only whole numbers and fractions while the seventh grade curriculum also includes decimals and percents. Once you've finished questioning your student, have him begin to work on what you did not need to eliminate from the diagnostic test.
While he's working on the diagnostic test, which should take 20 to 40 minutes, examine his school notes, homework and exam papers for information on his strengths and weaknesses. After several minutes, see how he's doing. If he's floundering and can't solve more than 20% of the problems, stop the test and start teaching him right from the beginning of the course. Otherwise, let him complete the entire test.
After he's finished the diagnostic test, grade it, making special note of all topics you'll have to teach in future lessons. Remember, the purpose of a diagnostic test is to allow you to determine what topics the student must cover during the upcoming weeks of tutoring. Therefore, don't spend any time correcting the problems he got wrong. If you do, the result will be greater confusion than before and you'll probably lose him as a student; it's a very big mistake to attempt to quickly teach several topics in one lesson. Rather, turn to the first topic revealed by the test to be trouble for him. As you work on this topic, make note of his ability to follow your explanations and quickness in learning the material, Use this information, together with what you learned previously, to devise a plan of tutoring which you believe will lead to your student's mastery of the course.
Reserve the last five minutes to make specific recommendations to the family. Let's take a specific example. Suppose we placed Johnny Smith with you for seventh grade math. At least 90% of the seventh grade math syllabus deals with whole numbers, fractions, decimals, percents and related topics. The Arithmetic Diagnostic Test he took during the first lesson revealed he knows almost nothing about fractions, decimals and percents and has lots of trouble with whole number multiplication and division. His homework assignments, quiz papers, report card grades and city-wide test scores corroborated your diagnosis.
Let's further suppose you anticipate he'll need about 40 hours of lessons to master the course. In formulating this estimate, you factored in the time you'll need to thoroughly explain each topic to him, write up detailed definitions, facts, methods, model problems, illustrative examples and comments in his notebook, have him do practice problems to firm up his newly acquired knowledge, examine and correct his written homework assignments and reteach topics not fully mastered the first time around. You also took into account the aptitude for grasping new concepts and the motivation for learning he displayed during the second half of the first lesson.
Finally, let's suppose the calendar shows 20 weeks left to complete the course. If you divide 40 hours by 20 weeks, you'd be forced to recommend two hours per week. If we had placed him with you in March with just ten weeks left, then 40 hours divided by ten weeks would compel you to recommend four hours per week. Even if you're absolutely certain his parents can't possibly afford more than one hour per week, you must still clearly state your advice along with all supporting evidence, no matter how many hours per week it may be. Then, after you've given your recommendation along with your reasons for it, you ask Mrs. Smith, how many hours per week do you actually want me to tutor Johnny?
There are, of course, two possible answers. Either she'll accept your recommendation or she won't. If she accepts, then everyone wins! You'll have enough time to teach the entire course, he'll probably pass with a good mark and she'll be pleased her son did so well. If she doesn't accept and wants you to come, let's say. just one hour per week, then reply as follows: OK, Mrs. Smith, I'll tutor Johnny just one hour per week. However, I must advise you I won't be able to complete the entire course and teach him everything he needs to know if I see him just one hour per week. But, naturally, I'll do the best I can and cover as many topics as possible. And that ends the discussion. You sat a date for the next appointment, plan to see him just one hour per week and accept the fact that you'll only be able to cover part of the course. For example, if you recommended four hours per week but she chose instead one hour per week, then you'll only have time to cover the first quarter of the course. This means you certainly won't have time to cover decimals and percents and, in fact, probably won't even be able to finish fractions. If, when lessons terminate, she complains you didn't complete the course, remind her you recommended four hours per week (and why) but she opted for just one. You agreed to follow her wishes only after informing her this wouldn't give you enounce time to cover the entire course. Like anyone who makes a bad choice, she alone bears responsibility for any unfortunate consequences resulting her ill-advised decisions.
To make this clear, think of when you've seen a doctor. If his examination of you led him to a diagnosis of high blood pressure and diabetes, he'd recommend medication, life style changes and follow-up office visits to bring there problems under control. If you chose to ignore his advice and, as a result, became sicker, developed other medical problems, had to be hospitalized and ended up dying, the doctor might feel bad you didn't follow his advice but certainly wouldn't feel responsible for what happened to you. He acted professionally, ethically and responsibly. You, however, chose to ignore his advice and, therefore, you'd bear full responsibility for the consequences.
So, remember to include these four key elements in your consultation: 1) Recommend a specific number of hours per week the student should study with you bases on how many hours you believe he'll need to master the course divided be the number of weeks he has to do the job. 2) Tell the parents what led to your recommendation. 3) Let them freely decide either to accept or reject your advice and respect whatever decision they make. 4) If they reject your recommendation, make it clear you wont be able to cover the entire course but, naturally, you'll do your best. If you discuss all four items with them and, as you predicted, don't have enough time to complete the course, you're in no way to blame; the blame rests entirely with the family and not you. On the other hand, if you don't cover all four points and failed to make clear who's responsible for what, then we'll certainly hold you responsible for not covering the entire course.
However, don't let the family's decision to have you come fewer than the number of hours per week you recommended force you to omit any essential topics or to reduce the amount of time needed to master a particular topic. For each topic, you must still spend the necessary time to fully explain concepts and definitions of important words, to clearly write up notes, methods and model examples in your student's notebook, to have him do practice work during the lesson and to correct homework assignments you have given the week before.
Now, let's discuss a problem most tutors experience from time to time. We'll continue with Johnny Smith whose seventh grade math lessons began with multiplication of whole numbers. Let's say he's had a few lessons and mastered whole number multiplication and division. You arrive ready to begin fractions, starting, of course, with such basic concepts as the definition of a fraction, numerator, improper fraction, etc. However, before you can start, Mrs. Smith asks you to put off fractions until next week and, instead, devote the current lesson to preparing him for an upcoming percent test. How would you respond?
Your answer should be No! Here's why. Consider what's involved in a percent problem. You must first convert the problem to a multiplication or division and then convert the percent to a fraction or decimal. As a result, you'd end up with a problem involving multiplication or division of fractions or decimals. There's simply no way he can do such a problem without first mastering fractions or decimals, a job requiring lots of lessons to do properly. You'd have to teach him far too many prerequisite topics before you can prepare him for the test. To attempt to do this in one lesson would be bad teaching and you'd end up with a student even more confused than at first.
Now, suppose several weeks have passed and he's mastered fractions. You arrive ready to begin decimals, starting, of course, with such basic concepts as the definition of a decimal, ordering and rounding off of decimals, etc. However, before you can start, Mrs. Smith asks you to put off decimals until next week and, instead, devote the current lesson to preparing him for an upcoming percent test. How would you respond?
Your answer can now be Yes! Here's why. As I explained, a percent problem can always be converted to one involving multiplication or division of fractions. However, since he's now mastered fractions, he knows virtually all prerequisite topics needed to begin work on percents. Thus, without any loss in teaching effectiveness, you can spend several lessons fully covering percents and then start decimals after you're finished.
So, when asked to teach topics out of sequence, your response depends solely upon how many prerequisite topics you'd need to teach first. If your student lacks just one or two prerequisite topics which can be taught and mastered in less than half an hour, your response can be Yes! On the other hand, if your student is missing more than a couple of prerequisite topics or lacks one or two prerequisite topics which would take the entire lesson to teach and master, then your response must be No! Its simply bad teaching to attempt to cover several topics in one lesson. You'll end up with a more confused student who'll still do poorly on the test. Moreover, I've seen far too many cases in which lessons were terminated because the tutor was blamed for his student's failure in a test after he mistakenly tried to fulfill a request to teach topics out of sequence.
If a parent still wants you to teach topics out of sequence, even after you've explained why you cannot do so, reply as follows: Mrs. Smith, I'm sorry I couldn't convince you trying to prepare Johnny for his upcoming test would be bad teaching and leave him more confused than ever. well, the bottom line is that my hands are tied. A-1 All Subjects At-Home Tutoring Service has a strict policy forbidding me to teach topics out of sequence. So, you'll have to call the office to discuss the matter. I simply can't help you. If she calls us, we'll tell her all tutors must follow this policy. We'd rather lose a student than have lessons taught improperly. In fact, when people call us mainly for homework help or quiz preparation, we suggest they seek help from another tutoring service.
We now present you with nine diagnostic tests dealing with math, English, languages, sciences and social studies. By all means, feel free to use these tests as much as you wish with the students we place with you.
Since we believe reading skills can best be measured by observing your student as be reads and answers questions about selections from his own reading book and from various textbooks, workbooks and readers you have at your disposal, we decided to leave the reading diagnostic test completely up to you. However, make sure that a first and second grader can say and write the entire alphabet in the correct order and can sound out all possible consonant-vowel and consonant-vowel-consonant combinations before you begin to test reading comprehension skills.
If you wish to obtain and use standardized diagnostic and assessment tests, you may contact any of the following four publishers, each of which will be glad to send you a free catalog upon request. The Psychological Corporation, CTB Macmillan/McGraw Hill, The Riverside Publishing Company and Scholastic Testing Service, Inc.
The Arithmetic Diagnostic Test is a comprehensive test of whole numbers, fractions, decimals and percents. Use it for students seeking help in grade 5-8 as well as students preparing for the GED, PSAT and SAT, since the math sections of these tests require a rather complete knowledge of arithmetic. If your student's syllabus includes word problems, measurements, geometry and other topics, you may wish to add some questions dealing with these topics. Since Sequential Math 1, 2 and 3, precalculus, calculus, higher math courses and science courses presuppose a thorough knowledge of arithmetic but it's impractical to do the complete Arithmetic Diagnostic Test, you may wish to include between 5 and 15 arithmetic questions if you suspect the student may have deficiencies. Since grades 1 to 4 math deals mostly with whole numbers, you'll need to construct your own diagnostic test with from 5 to 10 problem on all levels of difficulty for each operation your student has had. In addition, you'll need to make sure a first grader knows the numbers from 1 to 100 in the correct order and a third grader knows multiplication up to the nine times table.
The Algebra Diagnostic Test is a test of basic vocabulary, definitions, concepts, methods and skills involved in elementary algebra. Use it for students seeking help in Sequential Math Course 1 and elementary algebra. Use it also for students seeking help in Sequential Math Course 3, intermediate algebra and trigonometry since so many of the difficulties encountered in these subjects stem from a poor grasp of elementary algebra. Use it for students preparing for the GED, PSAT and SAT, since the math sections of these tests require a rather complete knowledge of elementary algebra. Since Sequential Math 1, 2 and 3, precalculus, calculus, higher math courses and science courses presuppose a thorough knowledge of elementary algebra but it's impractical to do the complete Algebra Diagnostic Test, you may wish to include between 5 and 15 algebra questions if you suspect the student may have deficiencies. These questions would include such topics as solving linear equations, solving quadratic equations, solving systems of linear equations, operations on rational expressions, operations on radical expressions, etc. The important thing is to find out exactly which elementary algebra topics in a science or higher math course are problem areas for your student.
The Geometry Diagnostic Test is a test of basic geometric definitions and skills. Use it for students seeking help in Sequential Math 2 or in geometry. It does not have any questions relating to proofs but you can easily add suitable problems involving congruent triangles, parallel lines, similar triangles, etc.
The English Diagnostic Test is a test of grammar. usage, sentence structure, spelling, punctuation, abbreviations and writing skills. Use it for junior high school, high school, college and adult students seeking help in any level of English. Use it also for students preparing for the GED since the English section of this test presupposes a rather complete knowledge of grammar and writing skills. Questions 1 to 35 are to be done by the student during the first lesson and question 36, the essay, is to be done for the next lesson as a homework assignment. For grammar school students, you'll need to devise or find an easier test.
The Biology Diagnostic Test is a test of basic definitions, concepts and skills in a high school course. Use it for students seeking help on the high school or beginning college level. For students in Regents level courses, you may wish to add some questions from recent Regents exams. For students in college level courses, you may wish to add some questions from representative college textbooks. For students taking general science in grammar school or junior high school, you'll need to devise a diagnostic test of your own.
The Chemistry Diagnostic Test is a test of basic definitions, concepts and skills in a high school course. Use it for students seeking help on the high school or beginning college level. For students in Regents level courses, you may wish to add some questions from recent Regents exams. For students in college level courses, you may wish to add some questions from representative college textbooks. For students taking general science in grammar school or junior high school, you'll need to devise a diagnostic test of your own.
The Earth Science Diagnostic Test is a test of basic definitions, concepts and skills in a high school course. Use it for students seeking help on the high school or beginning college level. For students in Regents level courses, you may wish to add some questions from recent Regents exams. For students in college level courses, you may wish to add some questions from representative college textbooks. For students taking general science in grammar school or junior high school, you'll need to devise a diagnostic test of your own.
The Foreign Language Diagnostic Test is a comprehensive test of the basic grammar, structure and vocabulary of the foreign language involved. Use it for students seeking help in any level of any foreign language. You'll notice that each question requires your student to translate from English to the foreign language he is studying, sort of a "one size fits all" test. For students in Regents level classes, you may add some questions from recent Regent's exams.
The Social Studies Diagnostic Test is a test of basic knowledge a social studies student should have before he arrives in high school. Use it for students seeking help in grade 1 to 8 social studies. For those in high school level courses, especially American History and Global Studies, you'll need to construct a test using questions from previous Regents or RCT exams and from appropriate text books. For college level courses, you'll need to devise a test covering basic course concepts and writing skills needed for papers and essay questions.
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