The school year has started, your to-do list keeps getting longer, and standardized test prep is moving further and further down the list. But what if you were training for a race? Would you show up that day without building your stamina, perfecting your technique, exploring the route, and choosing the most comfortable sneakers? With standardized tests as the main measure of student achievement in many states, there’s actually no better time to start preparing your students than right away to maximize their chance of success.
You may already be preparing the students for standardized testing without even realizing it, since teaching grade-level content to your students is the first step to success. Studied show that 40-60% of students have test anxiety, which interferes with their performance. To combat this anxiety, you can familiarize your students with the test by working the question types into lessons on a daily basis. The more comfortable students are with the format of the test and the question types, the more successful they will be.
When should you start preparing students for state testing?
You probably dig deep into state test prep one to two months before the actual exam. Prior to that, it’s a great idea to incorporate test-taking strategies in your lessons while teaching new topics. Periodically assign critical thinking questions that mirror those asked on your state’s exam.
Good reading skills factor heavily in a timed test, so ReadTheory passages can help students in all subject areas. The more they practice, the more their overall reading comprehension and time management skills will increase. A 2018 study showed an increase in test-taking skills, because students strengthened the act of spaced retrieval, with the learner pulling information from their memory and applying it to the questions. Plus, practice exams alert students to the skills which they are lacking.
What’s the first step in preparing students for standardized testing?
Students usually are required to take the same test, but they don’t all start out at the same level. The first step to help students learn at their own pace while meeting their specific needs is to use differentiated resources like ReadTheory passages. The higher-order thinking questions, vocabulary, and automatic feedback all contribute to student success on standardized exams.
Remember that some special education students will receive accommodations during the exam. You should give the students the accommodations throughout the year to get a true feel of how they will perform.
How can you familiarize students with the format and question types?
Take a look at the standardized test that is being administered in your state. What do the questions look like? How long is the test? Share this information with your students as soon as possible.
ReadTheory passages mirror state test questions and are perfect for classroom practice. The students will perform better on the exam once they are used to these question types. We also have free ReadTheory test prep practice exercises that are aligned to state assessments available for download.