Taking the Stress Out of Test Prep
A comprehensive approach to providing quality support to students during test prep season
Preparing students for standardized testing is a necessary part of the job, so why does it induce such a sense of dread? With so much concern over recent test scores, there is more pressure than ever on teachers to demonstrate that their students are making progress through standardized testing. But how can we ensure that students are well prepared for their standardized tests without “teaching to the test” and failing to give them a well-rounded education?
The good news is that there is a lot we can do to prepare students for standardized tests while still giving them the foundational knowledge they need to achieve authentic learning. Let’s take a look at some of the ways we can incorporate quality test prep into our regular instruction to help students achieve real success.
Gather Quality Data
In order to help our students demonstrate their understanding at the end of the year, we need quality data on where they are now. This alone can feel overwhelming as many teachers feel that they are “drowning in data” with so many different types of assessments given throughout the year from multiple sources. How do we know where students really are in relation to state standards? How do we overcome imprecise assessments, outdated content resources, inflexible curriculum, and varying “levels of understanding”?
We can use Progress Learning to directly align classroom instruction to state standards and assessments. This will ensure precision while allowing teachers to remain fluid in updating content accordingly. Progress Learning also gives teachers full control over creating and providing curriculum that suits the needs of their students.
GO BEYOND MULTIPLE CHOICE
While multiple choice questions may provide quick results, they do not give us a well-rounded picture of student knowledge. Today’s standardized tests utilize a variety of question types to attempt to gather a more accurate picture of what students know.
To adequately prepare students for these tests, we need to increase the variety of question types they see on a regular basis in their ongoing classroom assessments and assignments. By providing a wealth of standards-aligned questions, tech-enhanced practice items, and effective remediation tools, we can ensure that students are prepared for statewide assessments while deepening their content knowledge. Becoming familiar and comfortable with different question types on assessments gives students the chance to practice the skills they need.
Empower Students with Goal Setting
Standardized testing can sometimes seem like a looming obstacle that students and teachers must overcome at the end of the year. In order to shift this perspective, we need to introduce test-taking skills and quality instruction throughout the year so that students can feel empowered to show what they know.
By utilizing students’ instructional data throughout the year and helping them set measurable and attainable goals, we can prepare them for all of the assessments they will encounter and create buy-in to achieve those goals. With the use of quality data and individualized study plans, students can make meaningful progress on their mastery goals while simultaneously preparing for end-of-year assessments.
Another area where students can use extra support during testing season is in learning to identify and cope with test anxiety. By providing students with quality preparation, students can feel more relaxed about upcoming tests as they will have a better understanding of what to expect.
This also ties into the social and emotional learning needs of our students. Fostering social and emotional learning (SEL) in an academic setting is a critical piece in preparing students to do well in all aspects of their learning, including test taking. By working with students in the SEL competencies of self-awareness and self-management, we can help them understand and manage their emotions and feelings in certain situations, such as test taking. Spending time incorporating these skills into regular instruction can have a significant positive impact on our students’ academic outcomes.
Use a Holistic Approach
Rather than looking at test prep as something that takes away from our normal teaching and adds stress, we need to incorporate it into our students’ overall personalized education plans and daily instruction. By gathering consistent data, teaching students to interpret their own instructional data, empowering them to set goals, giving them regular practice with standards-based materials and various question types, and supporting their social and emotional needs, we can actively prepare them with a holistic approach to test taking.
Progress Learning’s mission is to provide students with quality, standards-aligned content that not only mirrors what they might see on standardized tests but also helps them track and meet their own targeted learning goals.
Interested to see how we can support your students’ learning and prepare them for state testing? Request a demo with us today!