If you are anything like me, you are starting to freak out about state testing! Ours start on Monday, and we have just a two week testing window. (Did I mention that Easter break – aka a 4-day weekend – just happens to fall in there as well!?!)
I feel particularly stressed this year because I will be reading the test aloud to my 5th grade special ed kiddos. There are nine kiddos who need the test read aloud! (I have one of the bigger caseloads in my school – which is fine, because it keeps me busy and I know some schools have WAY more than nine on a caseload!) But it’s also a little nervewracking because I cannot stand watching students mark the wrong answer and not being able to do anything about it. Since I read the tests in small groups, I see that first hand. In my opinion, it’s downright sad and depressing at times.
Anyway, the kids have to take three reading tests and three math tests. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that 5th graders also take three science tests. Plus, I have to read to them in small groups – so I will be reading 18 different tests over the course of just eight days. not.fun.at.all
Done whining! Sorry!!
Alright, so how do you prep kiddos for the test?? Honestly, I don’t really know. Obviously good teaching is key, but I don’t know how much good this last minute cramming the few weeks before the test does. I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer. Similarly, every kid can’t prepare/study in the same way.
However, I have been trying to find every good idea I can online to pin! If you want to check out my test prep board – head on over!
One of my favorite posts about reducing stress before test prep has come from “Wise Guys”. Their blog post is entitled “Ideas to Take the Stress Away”. Go check it out!
Here are some things I’ve done in my general education classroom in the past:
- buy smarties candy and tell the students how smart they are!
- give the students peppermint candies to suck on (I’ve heard there’s research supporting this – but I’ve never read/seen it for myself)
- given the students “You can do it!” pencils for motivation
Another thing I’ve done in the past is to make a sort of “contract notecard”. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some students who could care less about the tests. (Not that I entirely blame them!) With that being said, they still need to do their best.
So I stole borrowed this idea from a former coworker. What she did and I adapted was to have each student take a notecard and write something along these lines:
- work the entire time.
- follow directions. (because we know this can cover anything!)
- quietly read a book when I’m finished (because I don’t want them to get up)
- read everything on the test and answer all questions (we can’t look to make sure they did this in SD)
If I do these things, I will… (earn ______, do well on the test, whatever fits your student/class!)
Student then signs/dates
Here’s an example:
This “contract notecard” is taped to their desk during the test. This way you can simply point to whatever “rule” the student is not following. (Which is a great reason to have #2!)
The friend who introduced me to this idea said to have 3-5 things. So pick what is most important to you and go with that.
And I will end on a positive note about testing. As evil as it may seem, I do think the tests can do some good. They can hold schools accountable, and I feel it helps get a “whole picture” of the student when taken into consideration with grades, effort, and other formal/informal assessments. However, that still doesn’t mean I have to like reading 18 tests aloud!! 😉
Want some engaging freebies to allow your students some fun when the testing is done? Check out this blog post with 15 different freebies you can download and save today!
Happy testing! (Is that an oxymoron or what?!)