You work hard all year to make sure your students learn all of the math they need! Yet, do you feel like your students are not demonstrating their learning come standardized test time? I do! I recently went to a training and found that many other educators were feeling the same way. It is such a struggle but there are some things we can be doing in our classroom for our students to help them get ready for the test.
Spiral review is a must in today’s math classroom. We need to revisit and practice skills from middle school. The questions on standardized tests are predominantly middle school content questions with higher level thinking required. Students need to apply these skills to tackle more in-depth problems on the test but the ability to use those basic skills has to be there. I like to use bell ringers at the start of class to provide a quick review of previously learned skills.
Students need the opportunity to learn how to pace themselves and to get comfortable with the types of questions they will encounter on the test. Having the students complete practice tests in smaller chunks regularly (for me it is 15 questions in 15 minutes) gives the students familiarity with the test and how to pace themselves so they can enter the testing environment a little more confident knowing what to expect. I tell them every time five minutes has passed during our practice time so that they can see how many problems they have completed and to help them pace themselves better, if needed.
Once you complete the practice, discuss the practice questions and answers that students struggled with. It is awesome hearing students share their unique but accurate approaches to solving these problems and it might just help another student next time they encounter a problem that uses a similar skill. It also helps catch issues your students are struggling with as a whole, such as paying attention to specifics/details and writing their answer in feet instead of inches!
Teaching is tough and teaching all the standards is a challenge! Despite how we may feel about standardized testing it is a reality of our education system and what we do as educators and we need to prep our students for it the best that we can. I would love to hear what you do to help your students get ready for standardized testing!