Preparing for High Stakes Assessments

Harriet Isecke, CEO Readorium

Fortunately or unfortunately high-stakes tests are an integral part of education in the US.

Here are some tips for successful assessments:

 

High stakes assessments can be stressful. Students need to be prepared to handle the emotional pressure that comes from taking these assessments.

High stakes assessments can be stressful. Students need to be prepared to handle the emotional pressure that comes from taking these assessments.

The Month before Assessments

  • Practice test taking strategies with your class. Students need practice in the test format that they will be using, whether it is filling in bubbles on paper, or reading and answering questions on the computer, using skills like drag and drop, highlighting, and/or clicking correct answers;. If your school has materials for you to give students practice tests using the exact test format, they can be very helpful. (Be sure to review answers if you give a practice test and go over test taking tips.)
  • Teach students how to carefully read directions. Show them how to look for keywords in the directions.
  • Teach students how to read both the questions and answer choices carefully so they know what is expected. The extra time they take to make sure they really understand all parts of each questions will really pay off.
  • Teach students how to make intelligent guesses by eliminating answers that are contradictory, irrelevant to the question, or just silly.
  • Repetition helps students work more effectively and efficiently. Re-teaching basic concepts is important but it is imperative to keep students interested and motivated.  You can do this by changing the setting, having students make up their own silly examples, or by creating games and contests to foster basic skills.
  • Send home letters to parents informing them of when you will be conducting assessments. Explain to parents that it is important for their children to get a lot of rest at home on testing days and that they need to eat a full nutritious breakfast.
  • Try to relax and stay positive. Tell the students that the assessments give them an opportunity to show all the wonderful things they have learned.  Explain that they should always try their best but they do not need to get everything right to do well on the assessments.
Positive feedback before, during and after the assessment period gives students the ability to destress throughout the process.

Positive feedback before, during and after the assessment period gives students the ability to destress throughout the process.

The Week of Assessments

  • Don’t send homework that week.
  • Be as encouraging as you can. Tell the students that you are proud of their achievements and that the most important thing is that they are trying their hardest.
  • Prepare students to deal with test anxiety. Have them close their eyes before the test for a few seconds and think of something relaxing. Teach them positive self talk like, “I can do this.” “I can succeed.”
  • Emphasize not giving up. Students need to be taught to skip questions they cannot answer, move on, and then return to the difficult one later.
  • Again tell students that they do not need to get every answer right to be successful.
  • Make the test setting as pleasant as possible. Allow students to have water bottles. Make sure chairs are comfortable. Teach students to angle the test on their desks at a comfortable position. Allow the students to chew gum or suck on candy. It helps my students look forward to test day.
  • Plan a special activity when the test is over.
Acknowledge the efforts that the students have made during the assessment period.

Acknowledge the efforts that the students have made during the assessment period.

 

 

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