Schools across the United States are fast approaching a time-honored annual stage in the school year – Testing Season. And although this is an experience common to schools regardless of their type (private, public, charter, etc.) or level (elementary, secondary, preparatory, etc.) how the testing season plays out varies dramatically. Part of the reason for the variance students and educators experience can be identified in the ways schools prepare for this season. So, in this first installment of our Testing Series, let’s take a look at how you can be a partner with schools as they emerge from winter to best prepare for the testing season.
One important reminder to stress to your staff is that the United States does not have a national educational system. Therefore, in order to navigate state testing operations, your team will need to be informed about each state’s (and possibly counties or districts within each state) program, requirements, and policies. I suggest sharing these resources from Time 4 Learning and Education Advanced to support your team’s familiarity and planning.
However, despite the state-wide programs, the United States does use national testing during formats. For example, the NAEP Assessments and bank of Star-Assessments are two widely used programs that cut across states. Additionally, there are national tests that are part of a larger curriculum. The College Board administers a library of tests, including exams for their well-known Advanced Placement courses (see their 2023 calendar here). Similarly, the International Baccalaureate also administers exams for the courses in their Diploma/Career programs. A final category to consider is the tests teachers and administrators take. The most well-known are the ETS Praxis exams.
This constellation of the educational test suggests that knowing the test or tests that students in the district will be sitting for is imperative to a successful strategy to partner with districts. Once that is completed, the pathways to advance down the road of preparation are many. Unless you are situated as being the test prep source for everyone anywhere, deciding which are the best for you to pursue as a viable service provider is equally important. The list below is some viable areas of test preparation support paired with guiding questions to ask school leaders and community members.
- Test Samples: What sample questions are needed? Who will generate them, and how many are needed? How can students be provided time to practice questions or part/all of the test?
- Tutoring Sessions: What testing tutoring services are needed? What format (individual or groups) should be offered, and in what languages? How often are tutoring sessions offered?
- Wellness Programs: How is testing impacted student health and wellness? What services are currently provided that support students? When are these offered before, during, and after test season?
- Communication: How are parents, students, and staff informed about testing? What tone and messaging, including incentives to do well, are part of this communication? What is the district’s philosophy regarding testing, and how is that communicated?
- Data Analysis: How do you know how well you did on previous tests? What strategies are in place to address challenges and areas of growth? What successes have existed in the past, and how can those continue?
The Testing Season can be a dreaded one for schools. However, it need not be. As a partner in this venture, it will be important to convey a positive disposition balanced with specific support. Having a “preparation foundation” that is clear and communicated is a huge advantage for students, parents, and educators. However, it is just the beginning. In part two, we explore the next step of work related to Test Season: Progress.
Know the test. Or communicate the rest
- ask a teacher or convey the structure. Length. Weight of section s
Provide sample or practice questions
Study or offer study sessions
- individual partner or group sessions
Written By: Craig Perrier