I don't love standardized testing, but it is a necessary evil. I don't agree with judging schools, teachers or students on the results of one test. I don't believe that money should be handed out or taken away based on test scores. I am certainly not a fan of schools being graded on test scores alone. That being said... testing isn't going away anytime soon. Please don't kill the messenger!
I think we had best look at the bright side of testing, even if we have to dig a bit to find it. Testing teaches our kids to persevere. It shows them that they can do hard things. Students will eventually need to take exams such as the SAT, ACT, college blue book exams and career certification exams. Many jobs even require on-the-job performance evaluations. Sadly, testing is part of life. So we may as well show kids now that they CAN do it and give them strategies they can use for years to come.
Testing is a necessary evil, but should we bother with test prep?
Through the years, I have heard many teachers say something like, "I don't do test prep because I teach quality lessons all year." Have you ever had a teacher tell you that? It sort of ruffles my feathers, because it makes it sound like teachers who bother with test prep are doing so because they weren't good educators the rest of the year.
This may be just my humble opinion, but even quality educators SHOULD bother with test prep!!! Here's why:
Give Students Strategies
Our students have little (or no) experience with these high stakes testing. And as I established earlier, testing is going to be a part of their life for some time to come. Test prep gives students strategies for dealing with stress and pressure. It can help them to understand how to eliminate answers and take their time. Test prep is our chance to give them the skills they will need to be successful on not just this year's test, but all of those future tests.
Show Them What They Know
Test prep, if done well, can help to alleviate the stress and pressure that our little babies tend to feel about testing. Through test prep activities, we can show our students just how much they really do know! Sometimes a student gets so overwhelmed by that one skill that is tough that they forget just how many other skills they have mastered during the year. Help them to see just how smart they are!
Have Some Fun!
Test prep can be super fun! I had a blast with THIS test prep activity last year. Several of my kiddos wrote in their end of year books, that the test prep day was their favorite third grade memory. Wow! Having fun during test prep can help replace those negative feelings about testing for our kiddos.
Not all test prep is good! My next post will be about the dos and don'ts of test prep. Don't miss it!