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Last Minute Assessment Tips

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 -- Scott Sterling

If your state’s assessment season hasn’t kicked off yet, it’s about to. And while you might think it’s too late to make a meaningful impact on your students’ success, there are some last-minute things you can do to give them the best possible chance.

Practice the procedures

It’s probably too late to dump any meaningful content into their brains, but you can prepare them for how test day will run. A lot of the kids don’t know what 45 minutes feels like during a test, so they are surprised when those time warnings start showing up. They rush through answers and probably make mistakes.

Go through the testing procedures with your students before test day. Even facilitate a “dry run” so the kids can get a feel for the timing. Even if they’re veteran test takers, they could use a refresher.

Brush up on breathing

This might sound weird, but a lot of test anxiety takes the form of irregular breathing. If oxygen flow isn’t regular, neither is brain activity. And while the kids can’t move into yoga poses before tests are distributed, they can breathe.

Here’s a quick rundown on some breathing exercises proven to lower stress levels in 10 minutes or less. Teach the kids these exercises before testing day and convince them to take some time before pencils hit paper.

Tackle the technology

Many state tests have moved to online, computer-based testing in recent years. Of course, the next-gen assessments will be almost completely computer-based starting in 2014-15. Unbelievably, your digitally native students might not be used to taking a test on a computer.

Just as you want to prepare them for the timing and procedures, you also want to make sure they’re familiar with any technology that will be used. Every state provides practice tests and programs that run like the actual test. If you want to get a head start for next year, the next-gen assessments have also released field tests and samples.

Find food

One of the biggest causes of lack of focus on test day is a rumbling stomach. Some kids just forget to grab breakfast. Others can’t afford it. Either way, they won’t perform at their best.

Organize a concerted effort with your colleagues to provide some snacks or granola bars to the students testing in your room. If everyone does it, every student is covered. Also, some fast food restaurants offer free breakfast to students on test day. Do some research.