One thing that I think is very important in high school math is that students master certain basic skills. However, it is very frustrating as time after time, students don't master them!
For example, I actually had a student in my Geometry Honors class tell me the other day "I don't know how to do this one - I don't do percents." Hmmm...how to respond??? Other examples could follow...students in AP Calculus who say - I know I need to find the equation of the tangent line, but I don't know how to do that (even though I've done about 5000 examples!)
So, I thought about it for a long time and decided that there are some skill based things that students absolutely HAVE to be able to do...how are they supposed to solve harder problems without being able to do basic things? So I decided to start using the idea of a competency test in my classroom.
Here's the idea. I have 5 different competency tests each quarter. Each one is worth 10 points, so a total of 50 points. Students have to keep taking the competency test until they achieve a score of 10/10. This quarter I used the idea in my calculus class for the first time. The 5 competency tests were: 1) Factoring, (2) Writing Equations of Lines, (3) Trigonometric Convenient Values, (4) Right and Left Hand Limits, (5) Basic Derivatives.
I think this helped the students in two ways. First, it forced them to learn topics that they previously didn't focus on enough to master. Second, it gave them 50 points that they easily could get if they put their mind to it : )
If you'd like to see a couple of my competency tests, visit my store on www.teacherspayteachers.com
See you soon!