We’ve recently begun our two week session of state testing. I’ve written many posts about preparing for these tests (see The Best Posts On How To Prepare For Standardized Tests (And Why They’re Bad)). Unfortunately, because of space limitations, the chapter I wrote on dealing with state tests was pulled from my newest book and won’t be published until next year in its sequel.

However, I did want to share what is clearly the most effective thing I’ve done to prepare students for standardized tests — apart, of course, from teaching a good curriculum.

Plenty of research shows that student motivation plays a huge role in test results. I’ve previously posted about Angela Duckworth and her research into “grit” (perseverance). In fact, my newest book has a complete lesson plan on that topic. Basically, a fair amount of research has shown that grit is a key, perhaps THE key, quality essential to life success.

Because of what students have learned through that lesson, I have been able to talk about the state tests (and many other topics) in that context. I am very clear with them that I do not believe that the tests provide any kind of accurate measurement of their intelligence. I do remind them, though, about what we have learned about grit, and we talk about trying their best on the test as just another opportunity for them to develop that quality and show themselves that they have it by taking it seriously, not just “bubbling” in answers, checking things twice, etc.

There are a number of other things we do related to the test — many which you’ll find described in my “The Best…” lists on tests that I cited earlier in this post. But it’s clear to me that this idea of “grit” has had the most impact on many levels. I see it as they are taking the tests and, when I talk with other teachers and they tell me when their students are done, it appears that most of mine take at least a half hour more than other classes to complete the tests.

I like it because I’m honest with students and don’t make-up reasons for why it’s important for them to try hard at the test, and that the motivation to do well comes more from them. It actually turns the tests into something meaningful — and that something is much, much more important than what the ultimate scores say.

Of course, there are also far more meaningful ways to develop grit, but we play the hand we are dealt…