Derek has a Masters of Science degree in Teaching, Learning & Curriculum.
Since the introduction of 'No Child Left Behind' in 2001, standardized tests have become an important part of any school's curriculum. Standardized tests are exams that are written, administered, and scored in the same way in every classroom and school. Because of the importance of student performance on these tests, teachers and schools often need to prepare their students for these exams well in advance of testing days.
This lesson will detail several tips and strategies that you can use in your classroom to help students prepare to take these tests. The tips focus on reducing student stress and integrating test preparation into everyday teaching.
Align your Teaching
One of the easiest things you can do to prepare students for standardized testing is to make sure your instruction is aligned with the skills that students will be tested on. Some of this may already be done for you depending on the teaching program your school uses, but it is still useful to be aware of the skills students will be expected to have. By aligning your teaching with the test's content, you can help your students get as much practice as possible with the skills to be evaluated.
To do this, seek out information about your state's standardized test. You should be able to find information about what subject areas are covered by the test and what skills will be needed to successfully pass the exam. You may be able to acquire previous years' tests to read through. With this information, you should begin to adjust your teaching to prepare students well ahead of time.
Incorporate Similar Activities
Reading through the previous year's exams can be very helpful in determining what kind of activities will be most helpful to your students' eventual test-taking. To get your students used to these activities, include them in your instruction often. Multiple-choice questions are the most common type of standardized test question. Acclimating students to this exam structure by introducing multiple-choice quizzes and exams in your own classroom will help them feel more comfortable come testing time.
In another example, in most standarized tests, students will likely be asked to read a passage they've never seen before and answer some questions about it. This is a terrific activity to include in your own classroom, perhaps as a warm up activity for reading class. By doing this, student's will be used to answering the kinds of questions they will see on the test. This strategy also translates well to mathematics.
Teach Test-Taking Strategies
There are certain testing strategies that students will need to learn in order to perform well on standardized tests. One of the best ways to get them ready to take the tests is to teach them these strategies directly and let them practice using them. Some strategies are as simple as skipping and going back to difficult questions later on, reviewing answers once a section has been completed before moving on, and reading questions and answers carefully.
Incorporate these test-taking strategies into your classroom early on. Each of your non-standardized tests is an opportunity for students to practice test-taking strategies. Remind students often (verbally or maybe with a poster hung in the classroom) to use the strategies when taking tests. Helping students master these strategies can go a long way toward improving their performance on standardized tests because they can focus on the content of the test, instead of worrying about how to take the test.
Reduce Student Stress
Standardized testing can be an incredibly stressful time for everyone involved. Pressure is placed on schools, teachers, and students to increase test scores and make adequate yearly progress (AYP). Schools are often judged based on student test scores, which leads administrators to place the stress on teachers to help students perform well. It might be tempting to emphasize to your students how important the tests are. However, this stress may adversely affect student performance on the tests. Therefore, you should work to reduce the amount of stress placed on students.
Reducing students' stress can be achieved by explaining to students that there isn't anything on the tests that they haven't already learned. You can also tell students that, though they may not realize it, they have been practicing to take these tests all year. Remind them of the test-taking strategies they learned. Increasing their confidence going into the tests can help students be less stressed about doing well.
Complete Practice Tests
There are plenty of practice tests available, designed to be comparable to the state standardized test you will be administering to students. By going through several of these with your class, your students will feel well prepared when the true time comes. Practice tests help students get used to the format of the tests, ensuring that there are no surprises on test day and allowing students to move through the questions with confidence.
Standardized tests are exams that are written, administered, and scored in the same way in every classroom and school. Because of their importance to school ratings, instructor evaluations, and students' futures, the testing season can be a difficult and stressful time of the year for teachers and students. There are, however, a number of ways you can help prepare your students to take standardized tests, incuding:
- Align your teaching
- Incorporate similar activities
- Teach test-taking strategies
- Reduce student stress
- Complete practice tests
However, by using these tips, you can ensure that your students are prepared when test day comes around, without the stress.
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