We can all agree that students are a key stakeholder in their own education. When they are involved in the assessment process and in their own learning, the result is an improvement in achievement. So while reviewing test results with them after the fact is important, communicating with students – as a class or individually – before they test is equally important. Here are seven things to consider discussing with your students before testing:
- Explain where the test fits in the bigger picture. Any given test or assessment is just one piece of their overall progress as students. This one test on this one day is not the sole measure of their potential or their future. A better understanding of context will help them better understand how it all fits together.
- Share how the test results will affect their overall class grade. Often, students are unaware of why they are being tested or why the teachers need the data they are looking for. Is it going to be used for setting student or class goals, establishing a grade, or for placement purposes? Share this information with your students before the test so that they are aware of exactly what the score of the test will mean to them. If it does not affect their class grade, let them know that, too.
- Pre-empt questions about what their data will look like and who will be seeing it. Depending on the age of your students, you should consider sharing with them what results you’ll be receiving after the test, what results they as students will receive, and what will be shared with their parents.
- Take the fear out of the testing jargon. Words like evaluate, criteria, evidence, and scores can be scary for some students. While they may seem obvious and interchangeable to you as a teacher, it’s helpful to students to explain these definitions to them and set their minds at ease.
- Clarify the testing environment. Some students are less familiar than others when it comes to testing and how testing schedules can interrupt a given week. Providing better clarification can help alleviate student stress. Let them know if it will be a one-day test or if it will happen over a period of days. Provide insights into breaks, whether they can use the restrooms, and what they should bring with them on testing days.
- Make any transition to computers or tablets easy. If there is a computer lab being used as part of the testing process, be sure they know where the lab is, how the computer will be used as part of the test, and how to log in.
- Provide the dates of the next assessment. When you explain growth over time to students, it helps to share a basic schedule of how the assessments will be administered. Let them know when the next one will occur and whether it will be similar to the one they are preparing for now. This is a great way to emphasize a focus on growth.
Getting students on the same page before an assessment or test can really help settle nerves and reduce stress. If you have time, consider one-on-one meetings with your students to allay individual concerns or answer specific questions. If your students are taking the MAP® Growth™ assessment, you should consult this post in particular – 11 Talking Points for Teachers Preparing Students for the MAP Test. And stay tuned here on the blog, where every Tuesday we will feature some of our best tips and resources as you head back to school.