With the drop in academic achievements and the increase in standardized testing, students sliding through their education hopefully have become a thing of the past....
Drama Free Standardized Testing
With the drop in academic achievements and the increase in standardized testing, students sliding through their education hopefully have become a thing of the past. Part of the teacher’s (as well as parents) job is now to prepare their children not only in subject matter but also to emotionally withstand the pressures that can come with mandatory state testing.
There have recently been some interesting findings regarding test taking. The journal Science just published a study showing that tests are not just for assessment but also actually help people learn and retain information. In fact, 50% more information was recalled a week after a test was given on a read passage than with students who engaged in “concept mapping”(arranging information in a diagram).
This research is sending shock waves through progressive educators who advocate reasoning and active learning over memorization. Time will tell where this all leads. However, for the purposes of this blog, we will say that standardized testing clearly has its up-side. Therefore, let’s share some ways we can lessen the anxiety students (as well as some teachers and parents) feel about tests.
- Teach students to deep breathe before starting a test. This immediately brings on relaxation and clearer thinking.
- Give students test taking skills without declaring that “this is for the state test”. After all, hopefully most of what we teach will serve our students throughout their lifetime.
- Part of test taking skills is having students read the instructions carefully before beginning and looking quickly through the test to understand what type of questions are being asked (written answers, multiple choice, true/false, matching).
- Familiarize students with academic language by using it regularly in class. Ask them to assess, evaluate, examine, and solve problems.
- Sometimes, give timed tests so pupils can get used to this system. Additionally, train students to skip questions they find too difficult and if there is time, go back and try it again.
- Have students check their answers before handing in tests. Teach them to work backwards, narrow down choices in multiple choice questions and mark important points or keywords in a passage.
- Teach a variety of study techniques such as the use of flash cards, working with a friend, and memorization games.
- Be sure to build child confidence by using encouraging phrases. Offer statements like, “You can do it!”, “I’m sure you’ll succeed”, etc. Along these lines, make sure that pupils know that, although the tests are important, they do not reflect individual value or specific talents in areas not being tested.
- Ensure that parents are well informed of test dates so that they can encourage their child to get a good night’s sleep and eat a healthful breakfast.
Through these steps and more, we might even find that our students find test taking fun! What steps have you taken to create drama free testing? We’d love to hear from you.