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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Test Readiness

Are you ready for new endeavor?

That question came to mind today as I prepped the room and students for today’s standardized tests.

I found myself a bit nervous about all the little details involved in the process. Details that are new and unfamiliar to me.

I want to jot down notes about preparation so that as we plan next year’s schedule and test prep, we won’t forget the many good readiness tools and processes we used to help students with these tasks. No matter how you feel about the tests, it’s our job to help students

I was grateful that our system was well prepared. We put many actions into place to set students up for success, actions such teaching a standards-based curriculum, well-staffed and well-prepared training sessions, tech checks and preparation, materials acquisition, and process organization. Also, my partner teacher and her colleague extended the preparation further by passing out little “encouragement” brown paper bags to each child. The “encouragement” bags were available to parents to fill with an encouraging note and healthy snacks for test days. These wonderful teachers also wrote every child a personalized letter to read prior to the tests--a letter that encouraged their best work and effort on test day.  Overall administrators, tech specialists, principals, teachers, students, and test coordinators put a lot of time into positive preparation for test success.

On test day, there are also many preparations that are important to test success--small matter, but matters easily forgotten if you don’t write them down. Here’s the list that helped my students:
  1. Sign in
  2. Get your assigned computer.
  3. Have your headphones, a sharpened pencil, and book to read ready.
  4. Eat your snack quietly and read at your desk.
  5. Be prepared to listen carefully to directions and do your best on the test.

There’s teacher preparation required too including:
  • Set up the room as noted by the test manual.
  • Log into the computer site.
  • Remind students to do their best on the tests.

As far as school-wide preparation, these actions were very helpful:
  • A tech specialist and test coordinator on call to troubleshoot and help out.
  • Storage bins for all test materials.
  • A place to store the storage bins.
  • Folders of scrap paper. Scratch paper to help out if students need to use paper to jot down notes or figure out an answer. Folders to cover the screen if a child has to use the bathroom and to host the scrap paper.
  • Extra headphones on hand if needed.

As a learner it’s been interesting proctoring these tests for the first time. The experience has reminded me about the way it feels when you learn a concept or process for the first time.

I am so grateful that our system took the time to prepare teachers and students well to take the tests as directed.