Standardized testing is quite the ordeal for teachers and students alike. It really can cause undue stress and anxiety to our students and often cuts into our curriculum time as we prepare our classes. I wont discuss the merit of standardized testing, but since it is part and parcel of our schooling system, I’ve listed 7 steps to EQAO success (and other standardized testing), which can be used in any grade. I’ve implemented these steps in my classroom and really found that they helped to both prepare and calm my students. Take a look at these steps, and let me know which steps you use in your classroom in the comments section.
*Please note that, as per EQAO rules, all aiding materials (such an anchor charts and posters) must be out of student view during testing.
1. Discuss Test Taking Strategies
Even though you may have been doing this step throughout the year, your students will greatly benefit from reviewing test taking tips. This works nicely as a whole class discussion, which you can then put into a handout for students to take home as a reminder. You can also do a looks like, feels like & sounds like chart about test prep. Take a look at the example below:
Another suggestions is: have students complete an EQAO test section from a previous year, and ask them to note which test strategies they used in the margins. This is test prep gold right here!
2. Review How to Answer Questions Effectively
Because believe me… your students will be tempted to answer questions with “yes”, “no”, “because I know it” and other gems. This truly is one of the most essential steps to preparing for EQAO success. Students need to be reminded over and over again that short and long answers need to be written in steps. Here are some ways to demonstrate successful answers:
3. Review Important Vocabulary & Concepts
EQAO is packed with curriculum heavy vocabulary. So reviewing the key concepts of your year will really help to ease the anxiety that may come about when your students see terms they can’t recall. This is really meant to be a subtle review. Using old EQAO tests can help with this step.
4. Involve Parents
Chances are, as soon as you mention EQAO testing to your students, parents will be emailing, calling and writing notes to you the following day. Parents feel anxious about such an official test and are usually eager to help their child prepare as much as they can. It’s helpful to direct them to the EQAO website, as well as offering them some tips. Take a look at the notes below, and don’t forget to include a handout similar to the example in step 1.
5. Normalize the Test
The weight of standardized testing is not lost on our often aloof and rowdy students, and it can stress out even the strongest of them. It’s important to normalize the test and put it into perspective. I often tell my students that the test is just a way of seeing how great our year was, and noting all the amazing things we learned together. Give students a chance to ask all the questions they may have about EQAO. Also, read alouds and videos like the one below help with easing student worries.
6. Give students encouraging treats
Students (and everyone, really) love receiving treats. So, surprise them on the morning of their EQAO test with a helpful and relevant treat to help lift their spirits and give them an extra boost of confidence.
7. Let outsiders know not to disturb
Don’t underestimate this step. A slight knock on the door is enough to throw someone’s test writing groove right out the window. It’s useful to help minimize any intrusions with a sign like the one below.
Lastly, your students will look to you for comfort and support. So a warm smile goes a long way. It’s also nice to have a debriefing session after the test, where students talk about overcoming their challenges, which test strategies they used and other helpful topics.
Which steps do you find the most important?