Friday, May 6, 2011

FEATURED ARTICLE - Final State Standardized Test Preparations

by Victoria Leon
Whether you agree with it or not, your state’s standardized tests are becoming more “high stakes” each year.  How well your students do on “the big test” may determine your salary, if you get a “bonus,” or if you are fired.   In the Los Angeles Unified School District, the teacher’s name and value-added rating on how effective they are is reported to the entire world via the Los Angeles Times‘ website.
So rather than debating if “teaching to the test” is helping or hindering our students, here are some practical tips to think about as your students are getting ready to take their state’s standardized tests. 
  • Be sure to read your state’s standardized test directions to make sure you can use these test preparation tips.
  • Move your students’ desks in long rows so that they are not touching each other a few days before you begin standardized testing.  Changing your room environment will signal to your students that the tests they will be taking are different and more important than all of the chapter tests and quizzes they have taken throughout the year.  Be sure to not change the desks on the morning of the test.  You want to give your students a few days to feel comfortable in their new testing environment.
  • I strategically place students according to their ability and demeanor in their new testing seats.  In my class, two students sit side by side at each desk.  I know which students are able to sit next to another student and which students should have their own desk for the test.  I place my more able students in the front of the class.  Since I watch the class take their test from the back of the room, I can easily get to my less able students seated at the back of the class.
  • I write my students’ names on a map of their testing desks.  I use this map to pass out materials and I can cross out the student’s names once they have finished the test.  
  • The day before the test, I pass out name cards and put them on each student’s desk.  Then I am able to pass out all of the test materials in the morning before my students enter the classroom.  I have all of my students raise their name cards in the air and I can quickly take attendance and find out who is absent on testing day.   In California, every minute I save will allow my students to have that much more time to take the test.   We don’t have a set time limit, but my students are able to take the test up until recess.  Those students who have not completed the test may go to the library and continue to take the test during recess.   I would rather have my students be given plenty of time to take the test in my classroom than spending fifteen minutes passing out testing materials. 
  • I put a cardboard divider on the side of each student’s desk.  On top of the desk is a pencil, scratch paper, and test booklet.  On the floor by their desk are seven pieces of scratch paper and two pencils.  If your state’s standardized test is timed, every second counts.  My students have learned through the year to automatically get a new scratch paper or pencil from the floor and they don’t have to waste valuable seconds raising their hands for supplies.   
  • Before the test, I ask students if they need tissues.  It is hard to concentrate on a test if he or she has a runny nose. 
  • Right before I begin the test I tell my students, “Breathe in...breathe out...breathe in...breath out...shake your fingers and hands...SMILE, you are more than ready to take this test...put your divider on top of your may now open your test booklet...”
  • After a few minutes, I walk around the classroom to make sure that everyone is on the right page and working on the test.  I pat them gently on their back for a quick second.   Do not do the “pat trick” unless you have done it throughout the school year.  If it is the first time you do it on the day of the standardized test, it will more likely make your student jump than calm him or her down during the test.  If a student is getting agitated during the test, a calm reassuring pat may be just enough to refocus your student.  
  • I know it is a balancing act, but at the same time, do not continually walk up and down the aisles.   Stay at the back of the room and watch all of your students.  It is hard for a student to concentrate on the test if the teacher is hovering right behind him or her.  
  • Teach your students throughout the school year that they must check their entire test a second time.  My students easily use eight pieces of scratch paper as they check their answers over and over again in their quest to get 100% on the state test.   
  • Do not have a fun activity for your students to do after they have taken their standardized test.  Sure the room is quiet, but some of your students may rush to take their test just so they can do the fun activity.  
  • Do not have your cup of coffee near the test materials...accidents happen...
You may want to purchase my “Teaching Tips From an Award-Winning National Board Certified Teacher.”  It has 100 teaching tips and 28 forms.  You may also want my “Test Prep Tournaments For Any Grade and Any Subject.”   It has 11 tournaments to help your students review for your state’s standardized tests or your classroom tests.  
Wishing you the best during testing week,
Vicky Leon  

The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative

No comments:

Post a Comment