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):
PREPARING FOR TESTS
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”
Talking With Students About Standardized Tests
“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.
This is a short, accessible piece from @jaymctighe that gets at more thinking about test prep. Recognizing a lot of it easier said than done, but a lot of times, people do reflexive test prep. This gets at some underlying thinking. https://t.co/h8vPOouoP0
— Jennifer Binis (@JennBinis) April 26, 2019
The person who’s done the most work on the topic is probably Jeanne Miyasaka. I strongly believe any teacher or admin planning text prep activities should read her foundational text. It’s free and fascinating: https://t.co/pJ6kTITbaF More text recommendations below. pic.twitter.com/up1w6G2C23
— Jennifer Binis (@JennBinis) April 26, 2019
But again, it’s not a new construct. There are more than few stories about young men would couldn’t get into Harvard on their first try in the 1800’s because they struggled with the entrance interview or didn’t know the right text. More here: https://t.co/TMOOqGNAOt pic.twitter.com/0uRSOU81DM
— Jennifer Binis (@JennBinis) April 26, 2019
But back to prep. Getting our brains around what is and what isn’t good, high quality, ethically-defensible test prep isn’t easy. Mary Lee Smith looked at practices against ethics here: https://t.co/n4TIvhA1fG Gregory Bell builds on it here: https://t.co/ISK3XymYa1 pic.twitter.com/KBwrJe8213
— Jennifer Binis (@JennBinis) April 26, 2019
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.
WHY THESE TESTS ARE BAD:
Meeting Testing Goals By Lowering Standards
“Why Rising Test Scores May Not Mean Increased Learning”
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.
SURVIVING THE POST-TEST BLUES
WHAT STUDENTS THINK OF THEM
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
From @NEAToday: “Educators have long known that standardized tests are an inaccurate and unfair measure of student progress. There’s a better way to assess students.” https://t.co/Gd75QTB8Ia
— Jack Schneider (@Edu_Historian) April 28, 2023
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.
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…
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.
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.
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/
Meanwhile at my sons’ school, the 4th grade has “test prep as a genre.” Those are the exact words on the teachers’ newsletter.