Standardized tests are around the corner – End of Course, State Exams, STAAR tests, the PARCC test, and any numerous other mandated test that, with one single score, can totally predict the future, evaluate how awesome your school is, and determine everything a student knows!
Well, that’s a bit hyperbolic, but it seems like that’s what these tests try to do.
Do you know what’s worse than the test?
Test prep overkill.
Test Prep Should Be Awesome Instruction
If you plan to succeed by giving students 25 test prep questions per day, then you are reading the wrong website.
Please click, tap, or swipe off this page ASAP.
If you want to do better for your students, then read on.
Test prep is simply plain good instruction. The more challenging the questions the better the learning. The more scaffolding that’s embedded, the better the learning. The higher interaction, meaningfulness, and emotional engagement, the better the learning.
If your students are learning more, they will perform better on a test. And they’ll perform better in life.More test prep may create better scores, but it won't create better humans. Interaction, emotional engagement, literacy - good instruction - will. Click To Tweet
What About Test Questions?
I don’t mean to mislead – test questions are important, and students need to be familiar with the question styles they will see on the test.
But they also need to see and experience the thinking behind the questions. That’s why alignment is more than just test prep worksheets. Here are some examples:
- Pose an open-ended form of the test question, and ask students to walk around the room getting three answers to the question from three different students.
- Model think alouds by providing telling students your thought processes for the question. Then have them mimic you in a conversation with an elbow partner (it’s okay if the mimicry is humorous).
- Give students a question stem and ask them to create a bubble map (graphic organizer) of all the details or vocabulary that comes to mind when they read the questions (this is a type of free association).
- Prior to completing a test prep page, ask students to rank the questions from hardest to easiest, then use an online poll (such as this one) to display students’ self-evaluations.
After doing these strategies, or similar interactive, literacy-rich and engaging activities present the test question with multiple-choices. These interactive activities give students the opportunity to process deeply. They help to scaffold student thinking.
And watch how performance increases after simply doing good instruction.Give students multiple opportunities and formats to process their thinking. Then watch as performance goes up.Click To Tweet