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Tackling the Test: Identifying Your Testing Priorities

Help students prep for state testing with these test prep review ideas

When preparing for the state test, it can pretty daunting to determine which are your priority objectives.  Best case scenario, you have been tracking student progress all year and have a good approximation of how your students will perform on a standardized test. Worst case, you are just prepping for the test and it is days away. If for some reason I was thrown into a class room with 10 days until the test, this would be my go to plan to help my students.

Tip 1: Find your test benchmarks and blueprints.

Most states or departments of education should have a breakdown of the items on a test. I work in Tennessee, so unfortunately, after the testing debacle of 2016, there are no old tests to pull from. All I had were these benchmarks to help guide my teachers. If you don't have blue prints or benchmarks with an item breakdown, take the time to go through an old test and mark which objectives are being tested.  It will give you a snapshot on which objectives are likely to show up on that test.

Tip 2: Identify your Priority standards

In our planning session, I had them identify which objectives would give them the most bang for their buck.
In the Common Core Math Standards, there are 25 third grade standards, 27 fourth grade standards, and 26 fifth grade standards. While you can address them all in a spiraled review, more in-depth review should be focused on the high leverage objectives.Frankly, some of the standards don't lend themselves to the tested multiple choice format. Spend more of your time on concrete and discrete math skills than the more conceptual math items. Below is the sheet I created to help my teachers focus on which objectives they would be teaching. 

Use this worksheet to help plan test prep instruction for your students

Tip 3: Prepare Assessments

Once you have identified the standards, it's time to plan teaching and assessment. It should go without saying that drill and kill is probably not the way to go. Multiple choice tests on top of tests are exhausting for students and also exhausts your resources of multiple choice questions. Really food questions are hard to come by and even though you can modify them to make more, there really only so many oranges someone can buy at the grocery store. They walked through the Tackling the Test sheet and identified 10 objectives that they would focus on. 10 was chosen because it seemed manageable for the teachers, and that they could find 10 multiple choice questions to give for a pre-test and a post-test.

Now that you have 10 standards with 10 questions each, it should really take down some of the stress level of testing. Sure there are dozens of ways to remediate and you can agonize over if you chose the right one or not, but honestly, pick your horse and ride it. Stick with your ten, dig in, and try to make the review as fun and student centered as possible.

As for timing, I would do this on a Friday/ Saturday so that I could have time to adequately plan the review. This also means I am worried about the first half of my review only, NOT the entire set. Always remember to give yourself grace, and time for your normal life. Hopefully, identifying standards will help to streamline your test review practice and help you to feel more in control of your testing season.

Hope these tips helped! For the free worksheets, click here.


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