More Than 30 Hours, 5,000 Videos and 120 Lessons Tailored to Help Texas Students Achieve Test Benchmarks

“Coverage and Alignment” – the task labeled by the MasteryPrep product creation team when assessing the necessary updates needed to upgrade the Snap Course for the Texas Success Initiative Assessment 2.0 (TSIA2), a series of placement tests for students enrolling in public colleges and universities in Texas.

The result: almost triple the number of authentic practice questions, an entire sequence covering the essay portion of the exam, and double the amount of original video content, all resulting in more than 30 learning hours, 5,000 videos, 400 unique practice questions, and 120 lessons tailored to cover every standard assessed on the TSIA2 and help Texas students achieve TSIA2 benchmarks.

“We took the standards, ensured that everything was covered, and double-checked that our content aligned with what we were seeing on the test. Our students deserve only the absolute best we have to offer, and this new course fits the bill,” said chief academic officer Oliver Pope. “We updated our orientation snaps so that they get a better introduction to each test and its specifics, as well as revamped the majority of lessons to focus on the specific ways the TSIA2 assessed each standard.”

The TSIA2 helps Texas schools determine whether students are ready for college-level courses in the areas of reading, writing, and math, and all students in Texas public colleges are required to take the TSIA2 unless the student qualifies for a TSIA2 exemption. With HB3 now in effect, helping more students meet the necessary TSI benchmarks is crucial to attaining a higher Outcomes Bonus for schools and to meet school accountability standards in Texas.

For example, the TSI explains that there are 15 reading questions and 15 writing questions on the English Language Arts and Reading (ELAR) test, with no clear guidelines for when those question types might appear for a student. With research complete, the MasteryPrep product creation team confirmed the question type pattern. For example, the first four questions of the test always reference the same long passage, and the long passage is always a literary text. Following that, the student will see two questions focused on dual passages. “We used this information to supplement our courses and fortify our test-taking strategies,” Constantino said. “Students are offered insight into the style and format of the test, as well as how they can use that information to their advantage. Simply knowing what to expect on test day can ease their test anxiety and help them feel more confident, meaning they’ve got a better shot at earning a passing score.”

“We evaluated TSI's standards and pulled nodes, or topics of learning, from each standard to ensure our course covered everything on their list. Our team acquired authentic experience with the actual test. We learned a great deal about the structure and style of the test itself and gained insight into the frequency and nature of the topics assessed. By matching actual test items to the TSI standards, we saw a clear picture of what was tested and how they tested it.”

One major rehaul integrated into this course is an entire sequence on the essay. “The essay is required in order to pass the ELAR portion of the test. Students need a 5, and to get a 5, they have to be able to craft a piece of text that tells the TSI’s grading system, ‘Hey. I can write a 4-paragraph essay using a standardized format,’” said Pope. “Before, we had one Snap dedicated to this whole section. Now, we have seven, each covering a different element of the essay-writing process, from brainstorming and pre-writing all the way through revising and editing.”

Another example, the TSI standard on Geometric and Spatial Reasoning says, “The student will recognize, identify, and validate properties of two-dimensional figures, as well as calculate perimeter, area, surface area, and volume of figures.” Constantino said that language is broad and vague, but on the test, the MasteryPrep team found that the TSI tested these topics in specific ways.

For instance, questions about area focus on figures like this:

“These examples show us that area questions won’t cover any and all 2-dimensional shapes,” Constantino said. “Area questions ask students about the total area of combination shapes and challenge them to work with variables instead of more concrete measurements. Students need to be able to work with variations on finding the area of a rectangle. With this information, we were able to tailor the Area snap to cover this skill in an in-depth and very targeted manner.”

Another adjustment made to the Snap course involved supplementing the one snap covering sentence formation, which covered picking answer choices that create clear, correct sentence structure. MasteryPrep team research showed that writing questions related to this topic—in their experience—make up almost 65 percent of all the writing questions, so the new, TSIA2 snap course now contains practice snaps associated with sentence formation, coordinating conjunctions, combining sentences, parallelism, misplaced modifiers, and additional phrases and clauses.

Better Scores in a Snap!

With the TSIA2 Snap Course, students can boost their readiness for the TSIA2 in as little as four weeks online. Micro-video clips simulate a conversation rather than a lecture and keep students engaged. The average video length is only 10 seconds, which helps keep students from losing focus. Students can access TSIA2 Snap Course on any major browser, on any device, with no downloads required.  

TSIA2 Snap, an adapted version of TSIA2 Mastery, provides an asynchronous, digital curriculum for the Mastery System. The lessons contain essentially the same content, while variation accommodates the requirements of book curriculum vs. an asynchronous learning experience. TSIA2 Snap is meant for students to work on their own. That means it is perfect for addressing students who either cannot attend an TSIA2 Mastery course or need additional intervention.

Schools can assign students to complete a number of TSIA2 snaps per day, which can be easily monitored from the administrative dashboard. All snaps are graded, so teachers can analyze their scores to see which students are struggling in which areas. This kind of information can direct teaching and lesson plans for the coming weeks if patterns of misunderstanding are revealed.

“Snap teaches the concepts behind how to answer a question or master a skill in a scaffolded method, and mirrors the experience of a live tutor, reacting to wrong answers with corrective information and providing additional information to students answering correctly,” Pope said. “This feedback is specific. Students selecting wrong answer A will not get the same feedback as those picking wrong answer B. Snap requires students to interact at least once every 30 seconds, so there’s no chance to zone out or pull up distractions.”

If students are struggling to answer foundational questions, they go down different paths of learning to review and master those skills. Once they complete that extra practice, they return to the central learning path to see the same content their peers will see so that everyone covers the content to the degree needed. It’s more about individualization than fast-paced interactions.

“Students value TSIA2 Snap because it is the only video course that keeps their attention and offers momentum and energy through a logical sequence of skills they need to learn,” Constantino said. “Students appreciate that the course reacts to their decisions, which creates a tailored experience similar to working with a tutor.”

About MasteryPrep:

Founded in 2012, Baton Rouge-based MasteryPrep provides mastery-based college readiness services and resources to more than 2,000 schools and districts nationwide with mastery-based college readiness services and resources, such as for the SAT®, ACT®, TSIA2, EOC, and WorkKeys®. MasteryPrep is the nationally preferred SAT and ACT prep provider of the Council for Opportunity in Education and partners with schools and districts to level the playing field on standardized assessments and accountability measures. MasteryPrep is ranked among the Inc. 5000 “Fastest Growing Companies”; featured by “Entrepreneur 360”; and selected among the “Growth Leaders” by Louisiana Economic Development for two years in a row.

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