“… these tests are unable to measure all of what it is that makes you the valued person who you are.” – Principal Len Christie
Exam time is stressful for students and teachers. Teachers want to help students pass exams due to the high stakes, but also would like the curriculum to focus on meaningful learning. Research has shown standardized test scores do not reflect many students true knowledge and skills. Students who understand the format, take test prep courses, and understand the strategy needed to pass these tests will often outperform their peers. This kind of system is unfair to many students who cannot afford these test prep courses.
In Chapter 17: Re-evaluate Value of the The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, I discuss the costs of not passing standardized tests:
Tips and Resources
- Write students and parents a letter letting them know students are worth more than their scores, such as this inspiring letter written by Principal Len Christie.
- Familiarize students with the format and procedures, the stakes involved, time limits for each section, instructions, what they should bring, scoring, sections and requirements.
- What are the testing accommodations? Make sure students who are eligible for accommodations apply before the deadline.
- Practice tests in differenct languages can be found at shmoop.com/test-prep. If a student takes the test in his/her native language then in English, that student could score much better in English.
- Pretest early to assess: confusion, learning needs, low scoring areas, stressors, strategies and base knowledge
- Help students come up with strategies for when they don’t know the answers, don’t understand the question or instructions, are running out of time, get tired, lose focus, or are unmotivated to continue. They could doodle, stretch, conduct breathing exercises, or give themselves pep talks.
- Create a testing playbook! Find a fantastic example here.
- Try test prep stations where students take turns completing different tasks. Find this activity here.
- For at least a few writings, word problems, and so forth, assess with the same scoring guide as the test so students are familiar with the scoring system.
- Make it interesting! Take a look at this amazing Pinterest board with fun ways to prepare for tests.
- Play and create games that are similar to the multiple choice formats. GetKahoot and TinyTap are my favorites.
- Get students to practice with online communities like Voxopop’s free talk groups.
- Help them deal with the stress with humor! Create memes.
- Some other test prep web tools include Quizlet (iOS/Android/Web) for learning vocabulary, the Gojimo Test Prep app (iOS/Android) and ExamTime. ExamTime also has a free student study guide and the GoConqr free app.
Challenge: Try one of these testing strategies this year to prepare students.