Integrating Standardized Test Preparation into Your Curriculum
In this age of accountability, teachers are responsible for ensuring that their students learn. To measure what students know and don’t know, states all over the country administer standardized tests. Many new teachers are clueless about how to best prepare their students for these high-stakes tests, and this can cause a lot of anxiety. Most are left with one simple question, “What can I do?”
Experienced teachers will tell you that standardized test preparation should be part of the day-to-day curriculum, but you shouldn’t teach to the test. Here are some tips that will help you incorporate standardized test preparation as part of the regular day at school:
- Before you can help your students prepare for the standardized test, understand the components of the test yourself. Check the specific areas that the test emphasizes. If you haven’t received the test guidelines from the school administration, you can get the guidelines, as well as older versions of the test, from your state department of education’s Web site.
- When you know the areas that are covered on the standardized tests and the amount of emphasis that each section receives, you can ensure that you cover those areas well in advance.
- Don’t spend time on a specific section just because it’s a favorite of yours.
- Use the older versions of the standardized tests, and incorporate typical questions into unit tests and weekly quizzes. This ensures that the students get used to the format and don’t dread the unfamiliar format when it appears on the standardized test.
- A typical aspect of the standardized test is the assessment of higher-order thinking skills. If you teach your students to think critically, you can be sure that they’ll be able to handle any question that appears on a standardized test. Raise the bar by creating class discussions that allow them to evaluate, analyze, synthesize, and apply what they’ve learned.
- Cross-curriculum connections help students learn information more authentically. You can use your language class to teach about historical personalities and more.
If you can integrate standardized test preparation into the daily curriculum, you’ll help alleviate your students’ apprehension regarding these once-a-year tests. Good luck!