March 28, 2015

Standardized Testing

Lately on the Internet, Facebook, Twitter and other media, I have been seeing many things about Standardized Testing across the United States.  Forty three states have adopted Common Core Standards which were developed to provide consistent guidelines for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level to ensure success after graduation. Many of these states are testing students with standardized tests such as those developed by PARCC and Smarter Balance Consortium. Parents across the nation are opting their children out of taking these tests because of their belief that this type of testing is destructive in public schools. Many teachers share this view.  The reality for teachers is that we must continue to teach and prepare our students to take these high stakes exams.  Our only recourse is to do our part to influence legislators and those who are requiring the testing. I could go on and on, but let me get back to my point.

In Texas, our student standards are the TEKS and the test we take each year is STAAR.  As Texas teachers, we try to prepare our students to be successful on this standardized test.  Many students struggle with the exam not only because of the increased rigor and higher level thinking that it takes to work through the problems, but also because of their limited vocabulary.   The questions are created using vocabulary that is not understood by many of our at risk, low socioeconomic or ELL students.  I have found that helping students become familiar with that vocabulary will benefit them come test time. 

What vocabulary should you introduce, reinforce and review?  Start by looking at your TEKS and the Released STAAR Tests to find words your students would struggle with as they read.  Be sure to do vocabulary activities and games with theses words.  Include them on word walls and anchor charts and put them in your stations or centers.  I have created word cards of many of  the words I feel are important for students to know.  The pictures below are links to each of those products in my TPT store.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/STAAR-Reading-Vocabulary-3rd-Grade-1213424

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/STAAR-Reading-Vocabulary-4th-Grade-1680723

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/STAAR-Reading-Vocabulary-5th-Grade-1697744

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/STAAR-Science-Vocabulary-5th-Grade-1659381


Another thing I believe is important when it comes to standardized testing is keeping students motivated.  When teachers do too many worksheets in standardized test format, students become easily burnt out.  It is, however, important to expose them to the format of the test and skills that help them to navigate through multiple choice questions.  One way to keep students motivated throughout this review time is to offer rewards and incentives.

Set up a system in your classroom where students play a game with test review. My guest blog post on Who's Who and Who's New Blog is all about motivating students with games for test review.  Click the link below to see that post:

http://whoswhoandnew.blogspot.com/2015/03/super-staar-standardized-test-takers.html

STAAR Testing for our students begins this Monday.  Good luck to all our kiddoes and good luck to yours as they head into Standardized Testing Season!


Until Next Time...