Teaching Tip: Preparing for High-Stake Testing
Four teachers share their best ideas.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
Steven Hicks: Play the Assessment Game!
We don't have standardized testing for kindergartners at my school, but we do conduct many types of individualized assessment throughout the year. I always tell students that we're going to have some special time together and play a game. I let them know that I just want them to do the best that they can, and if they don't know an answer to just say, "I don't know." Students love this special one-on-one time they have with me.
Here are some tips for successful assessments:
- Send home a letter to parents informing them that you will be conducting assessments this week and requesting that they be sure their child gets lots of rest, is under little to no stress, and eats a good breakfast.
- Don't send homework that week.
- Spend a short amount of time giving each child one assessment at a time, rather than an entire battery at once.
- Give other students activities that don't need your assistance or have them play quietly at centers. If you don't have much time during the year for free exploration time, this is a good way to integrate much needed play.
- If you do any standardized testing, be sure to have students practice how to fill in testing bubbles.
Tracey Roudez: Daily Reviewing Is a Must
Good test-taking strategies should be introduced in the primary grades. It is important NOT to make the testing process a stressful one. Helping your students develop a positive attitude and effective test-taking practices early on will follow them throughout their academic years. Encourage students to review and proofread their work daily by allowing them to swap assignments they complete in class with group members to check for accuracy.
Genia Connell: Teaching for Testing Success
Whether you love them or hate them, standardized tests have become an integral part of public education. The dates of our state standardized “testing window” are handed out to teachers before the first day of school and we count down the days much like the children count down days until vacation. Okay, I admit it. I count down the days to vacation too!
When it comes to high stakes testing my biggest piece of advice to all teachers, administrators, students and parents is to RELAX. Right before the tests begin, your administrator may ask what kind of special “test prep” you plan to do to prepare your students.
If you're a good teacher — and I trust that you are — you can confidently answer “nothing.” As a good teacher, you have been teaching your students what they need for academic success from the first day of school. If you have not, there is little you can do at this point to teach a semester’s worth of information in two weeks.
What everyone can do, however, is practice some test-taking strategies with your students to make them feel more at ease with the format when the tests begin. You'll find many ideas to help prepare your students in a stress free environment in my unit on Standardized Test Preparation: Be Prepared — Not Scared!
You may also want to visit my Booklist to find resources that I use throughout the year to help prepare my students for the content and format that can be found on many standardized tests.
Jennifer Chandler: Keep It Real!
Repetition is quite effective when preparing for standardized testing. Don't wait until the month before the test to check the standards that will be covered. Become familiar with them at the beginning of the school year and weave them into your yearly curriculum plan. When it is necessary to reteach your basic lessons, try changing the setting of the lesson or the organization in order to keep your students' interest. Don't forget to also check out Scholastic's resources for preparing for standardized tests. Many books are very helpful with planning the mini-lessons your students need, like Super Strategies for Succeeding on the Standardized Tests: Reading/Language Arts by Sara White. By the way, on the day of the test, allow the students to chew gum or suck on peppermints. It helps my students look forward to test day! Good luck!