Break the mold on standardized testing methods and prepare students for their big exams without wasting a single moment teaching to the test.

Though it is still many months away, testing season will be here before we know it. As a guide through the gratifying, yet insane, career of teaching, STEM Jobs has outlined how to teach students new strategies for a fresh approach to standardized testing.

1. Have a New Attitude

Simply seeking a new approach proves that a teacher’s attitude toward standardized testing is shifting, which is excellent, but student perspectives must also change. In STEM Jobs‘ “Preparing for the Test Without Teaching to the Test,” director of education Ellen Egley shares a list of the ways students are motivated that can help teachers identify the traits of children and how to guide them toward becoming better test takers, students, and citizens.

Though Egley discovered these Six Levels of Moral Development in “Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire” by Rafe Esquith, they were originally introduced by psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg. Through examining the six levels, teachers should identify the students who fall into each of the following categories:

  1. I don’t want to get in trouble
  2. I want a reward
  3. I want to please somebody
  4. I follow the rules
  5. I am considerate of other people
  6. I have a personal code of behavior and I follow it.

Whether the focus is on reaching the expectations of others, receiving a reward in return for high test performance, or the looming presence of rules, the levels our students likely fall into rely on external factors for student success. Though achieving a level six mindset is difficult for adults as well as children, it is this attitude that will help students most. The only expectations that these students must meet are those placed upon themselves through abiding by their own high standards because it has been sewn into the fabric of their being. Because of this, teachers should discuss Kohlberg’s stages with students and have them reflect upon which level they fall into and where they aspire to be.

2. Help Them Know Their Worth

standardized testingDevote time to ensuring that students value doing their best on standardized testing. By elevating student effort to a level of importance that overrides all else, teachers will help children realize that these exams don’t reflect who they are as people. Be sure to identify the positive qualities each student possesses, such as exceptional class performance, a helpful personality, artistic talents, or sports abilities that these tests cannot ever measure.

3. What to Expect When They’re Testing

Quell student fears of the unknown by telling them about the test-day schedule. Advise them regarding any supplies they will need, rules that they must follow, and how they can utilize any free time they might have. By preparing students for the standardized testing day, teachers will dispel any fear-inducing mysteries and allow many students to arrive calmly and focus on what’s important instead of feeling anxious about mundane details.

4. Standardized Testing Study

standardized testingOne of the most important reasons to begin thinking about standardized testing now is that students need several months to effectively prepare. Students who are accustomed to cramming before tests are likely to perform at a lower level than if they adhered to a long-term study plan. In addition to developing daily study habits, teach children how to become better test takers. Review old tests and mock exams to identify how testing services create questions. Once children begin to see patterns in exam questions, they could start viewing tests as a puzzle or, according to Egley, a game.

There is no doubt that standardized testing causes stress to parents, students, and – yes – teachers. To learn more about making it through standardized testing with a bit of sanity and more successful students, read STEM Jobs‘ “Preparing for the Test Without Teaching to the Test,” which expands upon the points listed above. Don’t forget to maintain student (and teacher) momentum after the final test day by devising creative methods for teaching after testing during the last weeks of school.

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