Approaching periods of standardized testing present a wide range of challenges in every school and classroom. Schedules change, routines are disrupted, and teachers and students often feel stressed about assessment outcomes. This spring, we’ve been highlighting teacher profiles and interviews to help educators across the country share how they’re overcoming some of these obstacles.
Teachers have shared a variety of resources and strategies with us that help them to stay organized and focused during standardized testing. Take a look at some of these teacher-recommended organizations that provide helpful ideas when preparing for this challenging time of year:
The Teaching Channel is an online community that shares best teaching practices through videos, blogs, and forums. Check out these articles shared by Julia Chope, Social Media and Content Producer for Teaching Channel:
- Planning to Assess: How to Align Your Instruction
- Strengthening Lessons for The Common Core
- PARCC Tools: ELA Series
Even though standardized assessments can put pressure on “teaching to the test”, it’s important to assess students throughout the school year in a meaningful and authentic way. See these videos for formative assessment:
- Formative Assessment Practices to Assess Student Learning
- Formative Assessment and Monitoring Progress
Common Sense Education provides teachers and schools with free research-based classroom tools to help students understand and harness technology. They offer a variety of helpful resources for cultivating digital citizenship and leadership in school and at home. Take a look at these tech tools recommended by Darri Stephens, Director of Digital Learning for Common Sense Media and former educator, that can help students feel prepared for assessments:
- Top Test Prep Apps and Websites
- Math Apps and Tools Aligned to Common Core Standards
- Top ELA Apps and Tools Aligned to Common Core Standards
- Top Tech Tools for Formative Assessment
In addition to standardized assessment resources, Common Sense Educators also recommends great tools for more interactive, formative assessment. Try out some of these for end-of-year projects:
EdSurge offers an index of teacher reviewed edtech apps, as well as hosts live events to connect educators and entrepreneurs around the country.
Mary Jo Madda, Associate Editor at EdSurge and former educator, says, “Especially with the onslaught of PARCC and Smarter Balanced, preparing students and teachers for the rigor and/or difficulty of taking exams online is of the utmost importance. My biggest recommendation to build stronger relationships with students and parents during standardized assessment periods is frequent communication with LMS’s and other tools to send frequent text reminders/updates to parents. Honest and open communication will keep parents up-to-speed and likely decrease the amount of confusion surrounding testing.”
Check out some of these articles from teachers and edtech specialists:
- Why Everyone Should Pay Attention to PARCC’s Released Test Items: Advice for training and preparing students and teachers
- 6 Ways to Get Your District Ready for PARCC Testing
- 52 Tech Tools for Assessment
- Standardized Test Prep Tools
Madda concludes, “Standardized testing is only one part of the equation that determines how much your child has learned. Think of the testing itself as a tool to use to better serve your student’s needs.”
Edutopia, part of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, provides a wide range of classroom strategies for every grade level and subject area. Ashley Cronin, Digital Resource Curator at Edutopia, shares some of Edutopia’s best resources for standardized assessment:
- Beyond the Standardized Test: Aim Higher: Andrew Miller looks at prep for standardized testing as an opportunity to encourage higher order thinking, embed test prep practices, and make informed decisions about engaging the class and reaching individual students.
- Survive and Thrive During Testing Season: Lori Desautels considers the brain research on why test prep can be so stressful, and offers six brain-compatible strategies to help students feel better about themselves and more connected to the material.
- To Improve Test Scores: Hit Reset: Hunter Maats and Katie O’Brien explain how there are no bad test takers, but stress responses are real. Students can learn how to reset the visceral distraction of feelings that inhibit their test performance.
- The Importance of Play in Preparing for Standardized Testing: Principal Matt Levinson suggests playing with the standardized test format to build student familiarity and confidence for what needn’t be such a dreaded event.
- PBL and Standardized Tests? It Can Work! Andrew Miller acknowledges the tension between project-based learning and standardized testing prep, yet he also finds a wide swathe of common ground between both teaching methods.
To share with parents:
- Understanding Assessment: Resources for Parents: We’ve compiled a resources list to help families understand various uses of assessment in schools, what questions to ask, how to help children prepare, and all about standardized tests.
Join the Conversation
Although you may feel overwhelmed during this time, it’s important to step back, take a deep breath, and focus on your students. Laura Iskowitz, a special education teacher from New Jersey, says, “I feel frustrated with standardized testing, but I need to let my students know that I’m here for them and support them. When students know that their teacher wants them to do well, it can make a big difference in their outlook and effort.” Read her advice on making sure students feel supported during testing periods, and share your own ideas and strategies on Twitter and Facebook with #TeacherVoice.