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The Best Posts On How To Prepare For Standardized Tests (And Why They’re Bad)

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Check out excerpt from my book, Self-Driven Learning, “Ethical and Effective Test Prep”

It’s approaching the time in many states when our students will have to take annual standardized tests.

I’ve written quite a few posts about how I prepare my students to take them, as well as posts writing about how bad the tests are. I thought I’d bring them all together in one “The Best…” list.

I’ve made it quite clear that our school we intentionally do little explicit “test-prep” work with our students. Instead, we believe the work we do during the entire year prepares them to be lifelong learners and that will show-up in test results. We also do a number of things to help students feel positive on test days.

Please feel free to offer suggestions for other good resources on how to prepare students for the tests, or pieces that show why the tests are bad.

You might also be interested in A Beginning “The Best…” List Of Free & Decent Online Practice Sites For State Tests — Help Me Add More!

Here are my choices for The Best Posts On How To Prepare For Standardized Tests (And Why They’re Bad):

PREPARING FOR TESTS

Test-Taking Strategies

Testing Time

Getting Into A “Smart” Frame Of Mind on Test-Days

What Snacks Do You Give Students On Test-Taking Days?

Display The Letter “A” On Test Days & Your Students Will Do Better?

More On Test-Day Brain-”Priming”

Test-Prep Tips

Talking With Students About Standardized Tests

More Test-Prep Hints

“To Improve Girls’ Science Scores, Show Them Women Scientists”

A Beginning “The Best…” List Of Free & Decent Online Practice Sites For State Tests — Help Me Add More!

Brief Social Conversations Improves Performance On Cognitive Tasks

Thinking About Our Ancestors Helps Us Do Better In Tests

“Brief Diversions Vastly Improve Focus, Researchers Find”

The Most Effective Thing I’ve Done To Prepare Students For Standardized Tests

“Write About A Success That One Of Your Ancestors Had”

The Cognitive Benefits of Chewing Gum is by Jonah Lehrer at Wired. He reports on a study that showed test-takers chewing gum scored higher than those who did it — it kept the chewers more alert. I thought was particularly interesting because the only other similar research I had read was financed by the Wrigley Company, which didn’t inspire a great deal of confidence in its integrity.

Chewing Gum May Improve Test Scores reports on a new study that says chewing gum can improve test performance, but only for fifteen or twenty minutes after chewing stops. It says the gum should only be chewed prior to the test and will actually ultimately hurt test performance if it continues. contradicts the previous study.

Does chewing gum help you concentrate? Maybe briefly. is by Dan Willingham.

Can chewing gum before a test improve score? is by Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.

How NOT To Prepare A Student For A Standardized Test

The Advantages Of Helping Students Feel Powerful

Standardized Tests & Student Motivation

WHY THESE TESTS ARE BAD:

Meeting Testing Goals By Lowering Standards

“Why Rising Test Scores May Not Mean Increased Learning”

Standardized Tests

So Is What Obama Was Talking About…

“Test scores poor tool for teacher evaluation”

Refusing To Give A Standardized Test

“Why you should be skeptical about standardized test scores”

Race to Self Destruction: A History Lesson for Education Reformers is by Yong Zhao.

Michelle Rhee’s Cheating Scandal is by Dana Goldstein.

Transcript (& Selected Highlights) From President Obama’s Town Hall Meeting On Education

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Test Scorer by Dan DiMaggio

“As The Stakes Go Up, The Validity Goes Down”

The Test Generation is an article by Dana Goldstein that was just published in The American Prospect magazine.

Do Standardized Tests Reflect Student Learning in Schools? is by Patrick Ledesma.

Resistance to test-based school reform is growing is by Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.

‘I am a bad teacher’ appeared in Valerie Strauss’ blog in The Washington Post.

New National Research Council Report Finds That Incentives & Punishments Not Successful In Helping Schools & Their Students

High-stakes tests and cheating: An inevitable combination? is from The Hechinger Report.

Testing Insanity: Amount of Time on Testing is a fascinating chart by John T. Spencer.

Is the use of standardized tests improving education in America? is a good summary of research from Pro/Con.

If Gifted And Talented Programs Don’t Boost Scores, Should We Eliminate Them? comes from The Shanker Blog.

Why Test-Driven Accountability Is Grasping at Straws is by John Thompson

Standardized tests for everyone? In the Internet age, that’s the wrong answer. is from The Washington Post.

Undermining quality teaching and learning: A self-determination theory perspective on high-stakes testing

“Teach With, Not ‘To” The Test”

When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids is from Valerie Strauss’ blog at The Washington Post.

music video comes via Tom Whitby and The Educator’s PLN:

Standardized Testing & Creative Thinking


Remembering Test Scores and Learning about Regression toward the Mean
is by Larry Cuban.

Standardized Testing Fails the Exam is by W. James Popham and appeared in Edutopia

Study: Students from high schools with improving ISTEP scores perform no better on ACT exams is from Indiana University. Here is Diane Ravitch’s commentary on it. Here are more of her thoughts.

Tests Seen as Bar to Better Assessment is from Education Week.


Massachusetts professors protest high-stakes standardized tests
is from The Washington Post.

Quote Of The Day: Historical Misuse Of Standardized Testing

My discussion with Matt Barnum Part 1 is by Gary Rubinstein.

Shouldn’t We Have Choice in Testing? is by John Thompson.

‘Test-and-punish’ sabotages quality of children’s education is by Linda Darling-Hammond.

Test Prep Hullabaloo — Maybe Short Term Gain, For Sure Long Term Loss

Quote Of The Day: UK Study Questions Focus On Test Prep

The Dark History of the Multiple-Choice Test is from Edutopia.

Why Standardized Tests Don’t Measure Educational Quality is by James Popham (it’s older, but great).

The Most Important Info On The D.C. Test Score Increase

Games People Play in Modern School Reform is by Sam Chaltain.

The Best Posts On Study Finding That Standardized Tests Don’t Measure Cognitive Ability

This is older study by David Berliner on high-stakes testing, but it’s important and informative.

The Real World Is Not an Exam is from The New York Times.

SURVIVING THE POST-TEST BLUES

Post-Test Weeks…

WHAT STUDENTS THINK OF THEM

My Students Reflect On Standardized Tests

Building Social Capital In The Classroom Helps With Test-Taking

Additional suggestions are welcome. Though many of these posts point to articles written by others, I’m sure I’ve missed some great ones that are out there. I’d love to revise list and add them.

If you found post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to blog for free.

You might also want to explore the 400 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

6 Comments

  1. Pingback: Don’t it always seem to go That you don’t know what you’ve got ‘Til it’s gone- submit to the Library Inquiry… « Reading Power

  2. love your blogs.

    It would be really interesting if you would also cover something on entrance/enrolment and level assessment tests, i.e. ESL schools related, since this is a major problem for ESL school teachers when faced with mixed level groups on the first day of class.
    what do you say?
    any links for this?
    Thanks for your help.
    BTW your securitywordfontscriptisthepits. and you cant change it if you dont understand what 2 write…

  3. I’m in something of a power struggle with my colleagues at a high school in a small poor town. I am a Reading Specialist and this is my first year at this school and at a high school. The English dept. (me included) are supposed to be figuring out common bell work and what to do for a 35 minute standardized test prep class that meets each of our 4 day week. I have read a lot of research claiming that SSR is the best thing to do for test prep but a couple of teachers are rabid about continuing to use the test prep workbooks though they can’t back their decision with any research. Do you know of any sources of information regarding this issue? Thanks.

    • Cindi,

      I’ll actually have a chapter about this in the sequel to my “Motivating” book that will be coming out next spring. Most research that I’ve seen says — beyond teaching test-taking strategies for a week or so — the best test prep is just doing the regular curriculum.

      Larry

  4. Oh, how I wish you had posted this just a few days earlier as I was reading about standardized tests; you are so thorough with these lists. There are a few here I missed. I just wrote about how my students (gr 7-12) are often “elsewhere” in their thoughts when taking practice tests to use as predictors of success. Our state evaluation system (CT) requires these assessments. However, I often find the resulting data is unreliable. Students should not be defined by the limiting circumstances of a standardized test given on one pre-assigned day during a pre-assigned hour. Adolescence does not respect such timetables. My post at http://usedbooksinclass.com/2013/02/24/data-and-the-inner-thoughts-of-an-adolescent-test-taker/

  5. Meanwhile at my sons’ school, the 4th grade has “test prep as a genre.” Those are the exact words on the teachers’ newsletter.

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