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! and The Best Posts & Articles On Obama Administration’s Call For Fewer Tests.

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


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

What Tech Skills Do Students Really Need to Take PARCC Assessments? is from The Journal.

Help Your Students Score Higher on Their Upcoming Tests is by Eric Jensen.

Talking To Students About Testing is from The Growth Mindset Blog.

Test Prep Doesn’t Have to Be Overwhelming is from Edutopia.

What Research Can Help Your Students Score Higher on the Upcoming BIG Tests?

Here are two piece related to the role of motivation in these tests: Maybe American Students Are Bad at Standardized Tests Because They Don’t Try Very Hard is from The Wall Street Journal and Measuring Success in Education: The Role of Effort on the Test Itself is a study about it.

Four Conversations to Have with Students Before Fall Testing is from Teach Learn Grow.

These Simple Writing Exercises Helped More Low-Income Students Pass Biology is from Ed Week.

A Framework for Evaluating the Validity of Test Preparation Practices is a paper I learned about from Jennifer Binis.

Building Metacognition Into Test Prep is from Edutopia.

Researchers can detect when students aren’t trying on computerized tests is from The Hechinger Report.

10 proctor tips for engaging students is from Teach Learn Grow.

Don’t test after lunch: Time of day affects test-taking engagement is from Teach Learn Grow.


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.


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.

Here’s A Headline I Like: “School standardized testing is under growing attack”

Useful NY Times Column On Reading Instruction

ILA Issues Brief on Roles and Limitations of Standardized Reading Tests is from The International Literacy Association.

Why one Harvard professor calls American schools’ focus on testing a ‘charade’ is from Chalkbeat.

Systematic Review of the Disconnect Between Test Scores and Later Life Outcomes is from Jay Greene.

Should These Tests Get a Failing Grade? is from The New York Times.

Tests and Stress Bias is from Harvard.

Standardized tests in their current format are ‘incredibly antiquated’ is from The Hechinger Report.

Beyond ‘good’ and ‘bad’: Disrupting narratives about school quality appeared in Kappan.


Post-Test Weeks…


My Students Reflect On Standardized Tests

Building Social Capital In The Classroom Helps With Test-Taking

5 surprising things everyone should know about standardized tests is from Vox.

Quote Of The Day: Arne Duncan’s “Line In The Sand”

Quotes Of The Day: Is This Really What We Want Our Schools To Be Doing?

Arne Duncan: Why Change When We Can Continue To Do The Same Thing Wrong?

PBS News Hour Video: “Is The ‘Test’ Failing American Schools”

The Proper Use of Standardized Tests is by Walt Gardner at Ed Week.

Quote Of The Day: Great Metaphor On Standardized Tests

Quote Of The Day: It’s Not An Achievement Gap – It’s An Advantage Gap

Is Testing Students the Answer to America’s Education Woes? is from The New York Times.

Another Study Shows Limitations Of Standardized Tests For Teacher Evaluations

Study Questions Whether Standardized Tests Assess Learning Or Engagement

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.

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