Four Best Practices – Preparing Students for Assessments

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 -- Mandy Groen

Student assessments provide both formal and informal information about how and what students are learning. Assessments have a greater focus in the classroom than ever before and play a unique role in the learning process. In a survey of 42 educators, teachers cited four main challenges in preparing students for assessments:

  • The ability to differentiate instruction to meet the diverse needs of students
  • The need to expose students to standards-based practice assessments
  • The amount of content that needs to be covered to prepare for assessments
  • The need to keep students at all levels engaged and motivated

“I find my biggest challenge to be the fact that so many of my students have different levels of difficulty,” said one educator surveyed. “The students that I work with are not always struggling with the same concepts.”

Based on the survey results, we’ve put together four best practices to help educators successfully prepare students for assessments.

  1. Review and Practice
    Many teachers find that holding review sessions, issuing practice tests, and teaching test-taking skills to be the most effective means of assessment preparation. Practice tests are frequently used because well-designed practice tests support learning, serve as a review, and build students’ test-taking skills. Additionally, periodic benchmark assessments can be a good predictor of student performance on state assessments. Teachers can use the results of the benchmark assessments diagnostically to guide their instruction.
  2. Differentiating Instruction
    Small-group instruction, peer tutoring, and web-based learning programs are some of the most popular strategies teachers use to prepare students with diverse learning needs for testing. Small group instruction enables teachers to focus on the particular needs of the group. Peer tutoring benefits both students because one student gets extra help while the tutor gets to develop skills that reinforce learning. Web-based programs allow teachers to focus on specific content for a group or individuals to help prepare them for assessments.
  3. Engage and Motivate
    Teachers report that interactive content, such as games and competition, helps engage and motivate students. Additionally, enabling students to monitor their own progress keeps them involved in their learning and makes them feel successful as they watch their individual results improve.
  4. Partner with Parents
    Communicating with parents on a regular basis is an integral part of engaging them in their child’s success in testing. Teachers reported that sending home notes with practice materials for parents to work through with their child helps keep parents involved. Teachers also use other tools, such as email and websites, to communicate with parents. These tools give parents visibility into their child’s progress and convey ways in which they can help their child at home.

Want to learn how Study Island can help you prepare students for assessments? Read the full white paper, Best Practices: Strategies for Preparing Students for Assessments.