Junior High Band
Testing Tips

Use an Electronic Scanner

To correct the written test, I initially had the students trade papers and correct each other’s tests while I read the answers. The honest students would do their best but occasionally make mistakes. The dishonest students would say to one another, “I’ll give you a good score if you give me a good score.” Not only was the correction inaccurate but it took valuable time for me to read the answers. With an electronic scanner the correction was fast and accurate, plus it also provided test analysis reports, i.e., how many missed each question, average test scores, and so forth, which helped me know how well I had taught each concept. There are several scanners available. Many companies will let you use the machine for free if you buy the test forms from them. At first I used a Scantron scanner, but when the company changed its usage policy and our school didn't qualify for a scanner, I switched to NCS.

I was at the school the other day (November 2014) and noticed the NCS scanner at the bottom of a stack of stuff in the copy room. I asked the current band director about it and she said the whole district is now using “MasteryConnect.” It’s a website where you upload your tests, print out bubble sheets, and score the tests by holding the bubble sheets up to the built-in camera on your computer (if your computer doesn’t have a camera, cameras are available to purchase.) Here is what band director Brittany Fehr said about it:

"MasteryConnect is mostly an assessment tool. You can upload your class lists onto the website as "trackers" and then upload assignments and assessments linked to those classes. You can also upload state core standards and attach them to your assessments. . .

"As the classes complete the assignments or assessments on bubble sheets . . . you can go to the grading portion of the website, turn on your computer's built-in camera and hold up the paper to the camera and it will grade it instantly. It's nice for the students to get that immediate feedback. . .

"The best thing about it is that it will then organize data for you - so you can immediately see who needs . . . help and on which standard. It will give you comparison data on things like the demographics of the class . . . comparing class to class of your own kids or class to class between others in your district.”

The website is masteryconnect.com. There are three options: (1) A limited version for “verified” teachers and administrators that is free, (2) A more complete version for one teacher that costs $159/year and (3) A district version with all the bells and whistles that costs $7/student/year (These are November 2014 prices.)

Video Disclaimer

The attached videos are not perfect examples of how each tune should be played. They are recordings of junior high students, some of whom have had their instruments for only a few months. Also, they are not professional recordings. They were taken by band parents using home equipment and naturally focusing on their own children.

I include them for two reasons: (1) To give you an idea of what the arrangements are like, and (2) To illustrate the kind of performance you can expect from your junior high students.