10 Classroom and School Tips to Improve Test Scores
As your curriculum runs down and anxiety ramps up, you may think that there’s nothing more you can do to prepare your students for test day. But, there are always ways to help students. Here are ten tips to make sure that they have every chance to succeed.
Prepare students for the test itself
Tests change even more often than standards based on such things as contractor changes, technology upgrades, and other factors. The testing services provide demos for a reason. Make them available to your students, and ensure that students know how to navigate any software that is needed. This is particularly true in math, where helpful tools like calculators may be hidden under a button or setting.
Below are a few things your students will need to have to be successful:
- Device Familiarity
- Understanding of how to Navigate the Test
- Exposure to Technology-Enhanced Item Types
- Basic Keyboarding Skills
Make sure that your district is giving students enough preparation and time with these items to ensure success.
Benchmark your learners
Conduct one more benchmark assessment before testing season just to make sure that there isn’t one last topic in which everyone can improve with just a bit more practice. You’ve done a lot of benchmarking up to now, but things change quickly during the school year.
Leverage your data
Make one more pass at wholesale data study to make certain that there isn’t something missing from your students’ skill sets. In fact, bring in the students so that they understand the skills they need and learn where they must progress in order to score well on the test itself. 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.
Provide students with incentives
Students aren’t known for intrinsic motivation, and a lot of practice can test their patience even further. Whenever possible, make practice a game, and offer consistent rewards to keep the students striving forward. Celebrate student success by incentivizing students to do their best work with fun schoolwide initiatives.
Previewing test sections before answering questions can be a valuable skill on test day, saving time and closing gaps of understanding. Although it’s great to practice previewing in the context of a larger testing item, devoting some time to previewing itself can help all students get the point.
Let parents help
Parents can be strong motivators for your learners. If you can achieve parental buy-in, the likelihood of students having testing success dramatically increases.
Although local news reports run the occasional story about upcoming testing, parents won’t know what’s going on with their individual children unless you tell them. Help your administrators and teachers by setting up standard communication points to ensure that parents are regularly informed and continue to be involved in their child’s education.
Keep them informed of the schedule, the process, and the preparations the class is taking. That sets up parents to having meaningful conversations and helping with practice at home. Check out tips for parents to help students prepare for testing.
Create a positive culture
As Henry Ford is credited for saying, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t—you’re right.” It is critical to create a culture of positivity throughout schools in your district all year, but it is especially important before high-stakes exams.
Combat testing anxiety for students by cultivating a productive classroom environment, teaching effective test-taking strategies, and leveraging mindfulness as your test-prep secret weapon. Help students set some goals and then never let them act as though they won’t reach those goals. Celebrate every little success during practice, and model that culture for other students as well.
Practice, practice, practice!
The cliché is true: practice does make perfect. Create a review plan that provides multiple chances for students to practice not only the content they will need to know but also the testing format. Make sure that your plan includes modalities beyond taking practice tests—games, writing, and speech exercises can help students retain information and gain a deeper understanding of concepts. The more exposure that students have to the material and testing environment, the more comfortable they will be when testing day arrives.
Be the students’ “catering manager”
On testing day, students’ minds are in their stomachs. Research has proven repeatedly that hungry students perform more poorly on tests than those who are well fed. Come to testing day with granola or energy bars, and ask parents to do their best on the home front. Some local fast-food restaurants even offer free breakfast for students during testing week, so check out participating ones and make sure that parents know about them.
Keep students moving
Just like a rumbling stomach, an aching back or neck can drag down a student’s score. Spend some time showing students some proven seated stretching techniques and simple deep breathing exercises. When the test offers a break period, allow students to use it to move around, not stay seated in the same place they’ve spent the past hour or more.
Looking for more ways to aid in your test-prep efforts? Put a fool-proof plan together this testing season to spot any blind spots and prepare students to successfully show what they know with free guides, blogs, downloadables and more in Edmentum's free Test Prep Toolkit.