Friday, January 1, 2016

The #1 Strategy to Beat the Standardized Testing Blues

I was frustrated!
I was overwhelmed with numerous data collections!
And I hated teaching to a test!  

I pace the room as the students work silently. My heart pounding, my brain spinning. Did I do enough? Did I cover the standards enough? Did I give them the confidence they need? My brain races. I don’t want to teach to a test.  I know this isn’t the learning that will motivate my students, they won’t get a job taking tests. These score won’t be valued in the “real world”  but I have to get them ready!

After hours of lost sleep with the middle of the night worries, I came up with this solution. I created 180 days of assessments.  Each day has 4 sections - ELA, math, science, and social studies.  The goal was to create something they could finish in about 10 minutes at school, and I knew that I had covered the standards in all of the subjects.  I used these assessments as morning work, when you were finished work, or during whole class bathroom and water breaks. Basically any time I felt that it could be completed under my watch.

I wanted the students to finish these at school with me assessing the completion.  I didn't want it to be homework that didn't always show what the students knew.  

The ELA and Math are previews and reviews and the questions spiral.  When a new topic in ELA is introduced there is more of an explanation in the first question and the next day will be more practice.  

The Science and Social Studies assessments ask students to use online or book resources (their textbooks) to answer questions.  The goal of the 21st Century Skills are for students to be able to find and use information.  Once students get into middle and high school, they will do more research on their own.  And in life, when you need find an answer, you have to know where to look.  

For each quarter I provided a graph. The graph has the Common Core Standard as well as the topic in case your state doesn’t use these standards. The topic is listed for Science and Social Studies.   

Grading and completing the chart for each kid was more tedious.  But in the end I saved way more time by knowing where everyone was academically throughout the year.  I found that having the students turn in their books each day opened to the correct page was easiest.  I would pull the Answer Key up on my computer and memorize or I would minimize it and glance as needed.  Then I would grade a few here and there throughout the day.  If you have a student intern this is a great task for them to complete for you.  If you have students coming in at different times in the am, then grade with a student who finishes early. This is a great chance to give some immediate feedback.  

When it came time for data needed for intervention meetings, or parent conferences, or designing my March preparing for testing lesson planning, I had everything I needed!  I could tell administration or parents, exactly what the students were missing and where they were succeeding.  I was able to immediately identify areas that the students needed for reteaching.  

End of Quarter Quizzes
  • gave me an additional grade each quarter.  I’d send these entire book home for studying.  I wanted them back so I would give 3 bonus points for returning them.  Parents always ask how they can help their child for testing and this is what I would send home in March.  They would get all but the 4th quarter book.  

Once I created this Daily Assessment I looked like this!   

Happy Testing

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Credit: (Beach Photo) Kaspars Grinvalds/Dollar Photo Club 


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