If you’ve spent some time on our site, I’m sure you’ve seen the term “diagnostic approach” mentioned quite a few times. So, what exactly is a diagnostic approach compared to a standardized approach?
When I think of a standardized approach, I think of an assembly line. An assembly line is broken down into specific pieces or processes that when added together creates a larger machine. Think of a car being made… there are thousands of individual pieces that are put together to get to the final product of the car that we see at the dealership. This is a great method for mass production and will give predictable results. The issue arises if you want something different than what comes off of the assembly line. What if you want more horsepower, run flat tires or your windows tinted? Many times you have to take the car to a specialty shop. The assembly line simply isn't equipped to satisfy those unique needs.
Understandably, this is the way our education system is set up. Teachers get a new “batch” of kids each year. They have their lesson plans and instructional materials that they are to teach each semester or year. They move as many kids through the content as possible while doing what they can to help those that are either falling behind or need extra help. Obviously their goal is to help as many students as possible, but how can they possibly provide individual attention to each student in their class? No matter how good the teacher is, there just isn’t enough time in the day. However, this is the way the modern school system is set up. Unfortunately, that leaves a lot of people out there who don’t “fit” into the assembly line approach.
When I think of a diagnostic approach, I think of a visit with a doctor. Think of the last time you were at the doctor’s office. Did the doctor come in and start giving you every prescription available? Or, did they take the time to ask you questions regarding your ailments, dive deeper down into what is hurting and THEN give you a solution to the problem? I know this may seem like a silly example, but that is the biggest difference between the two approaches. The doctor takes the time to talk to the patient. See where the biggest areas of concern are. Uses their experience and education and then gives a solution to the problem and action steps to make sure that it doesn’t continue to bother the patient.
This is the biggest difference in the way we approach helping students with the SAT. We understand that each student is different and has different needs. Some people we speak with just need help in one specific section while others need ongoing help. With this in mind, this is how we approach each relationship. The last thing that we want is to be going over material that the student has mastered! That is why we start all of our students out with a 40 question “pre-test”. This will allow us to do a couple of things: