Andrew Hoskins, a Lindenwood University and Missouri State graduate, is in his tenth year teaching social studies. Hoskins was the only teacher last year that used USATestprep in his classroom at Cassville High School. Traci Mitchell, the Director of Learning for the Cassville R-IV School District singled him out as being the reason for encouraging the widespread use of USATestprep in their high school the following school year. Mitchell indicated her district wanted to move toward looking at student growth data based on what students are doing in the classroom. Because of Hoskins successful implementation of USATestprep, they had a clear picture on how USATestprep could help to identify gaps in learning and help teachers plan accordingly.
We sat down to speak with Hoskins who quickly made clear how he felt after only using USATestprep for one school year: “It fits the mold and questions are similar to the Missouri EOC. Our scores were good, but we want to push them to the next level and USATestprep is the way to do it!”
USATP: How did you find out about USATestprep?
AH: Every spring we have an Ozark Social Studies Symposium and the buzz around the event was USATestprep. I talked with teachers from other districts and they kept pointing back to their use of USATestprep. Our districts are competitive when it comes to the state testing scores, so we network with each other to find out what everyone else is using that works.
USATP: Describe the different ways in which you use USATestprep.
AH: Tracking standards for sure. I’ve used other programs before, but nothing like USATestprep. I can change my instruction based on if my students are understanding the standards. I love the projector mode materials, bell ringers, and handouts. It’s flexible to the fact that we are a 1:1 district so I can send students home with access to the material or print handouts for class.
USATP: What improvements have you seen in your classroom?
AH: For one, my students are more comfortable taking the EOCs having been exposed to high DOK questions. Sometimes beating a test is knowing not just the material, but what the question is asking and being able to build around it. It really impressed me that USATestprep was able to give my students questions that are more rigorous and not just multiple choice. They have questions to match a sequence and there are constructive response questions. This makes the EOCs less daunting and my students’ comfort levels escalated.
USATP: What would you say to teachers who are hesitant to try USATestprep?
AH: We were using iReady, but there was not nearly as much data collection. My goal is to get the whole picture on how students are actually performing and iReady just didn’t satisfy our teachers in that regard. USATestprep is different. Social studies teachers hate reinventing the wheel. So with the great question banks, ability to format my own questions and remediate my students, and also collect data, it’s the bread and butter that writes my curriculum for the year. It’s super easy!
USATP: So you are clearly a loyal and avid USATestprep user already! We love to hear it. What about your students? Are they fans of USATestprep?
AH: Once they realize that 70-80% of the questions on the EOC are higher difficulty level questions like they see on USATestprep, they learn to appreciate it. Their test anxiety levels are lower and they feel comfortable walking into a testing season.
USATP: You clearly love the platform and have encouraged your school to add more subjects for the upcoming school year. Has your staff done any training with USATP in order for them to be able to utilize it like you have? Do you have any tips?
AH: The best way to learn is to jump right in. I also look up videos other users have created to navigate the platform. It didn’t take long for me to learn the platform to be really impressed. There is a question bank on there, but you can also add your own questions as well. Like I said before, you’re not reinventing the wheel. You can set it up and then let your kids use it throughout the year. My building is really excited. It’s not uncommon for schools to have issues with testing, but now we have a tool that helps with gradual change.
USATP: Thank you so much for your time! Any final thoughts?
AH: USATestprep works! And you update to our standards every year and that’s HUGE!
The excitement that Hoskins displayed reveals a genuine passion for teaching. Even after ten years, he is constantly stepping up his instructional game, while simultaneously challenging his students in a way that lowers test anxiety. Andrew Hoskins, you are an EOC test prep champion and we applaud you for your ability to empower students with confidence!