Managing Tests {Tips for Teachers-Organizing and Managing Tests in the Classroom}

As a kid I remember a test was a BIG deal.

Sure there was a weekly spelling test which wasn't worth breaking a sweat over, but those other tests...


Because they were few and far between.

Today, our little friends are tested all. the. time.

There's the test. There's the practice test. There's the...well, I'll just let the cartoon explain it...

And I think as teachers we are starting for feel like there may be a lot of truth to this...

But, while testing and test prep can be taken to the extreme, there is also the positive side, which is true data-driven instruction. When we use the information gathered through both formal and informal assessments to form small groups for focus lessons and differentiate our instruction to address specific student need the testing becomes purposeful and worth the time investment. Here are a few tips to make that happen:

  • I try not to use the word "test" with the kids. It's a strong word that can make some friends nervous.

  • Always explain the purpose for the assessment. Are you giving them an assessment so that you can plan small group instruction? Are they bubbling in circles because the state mandates they do? Share the reason for their work with them.

  • I try to make those bigger (state/district mandated) assessments seem more like a celebration than a chore. I explain that we have been working very hard to learn new skills and it is finally our chance to "Show What We Know!" This helps them to view it as an opportunity vs a stressful chore.

  • Strive to find ways to enrich your students so that assessments are an incentive to prove they are proficient so they can move on to something new. I find this easiest to accomplish through Guided Math and Reader Workshop.

  • Assign "quiet working stations" and use them for assessments. I have tables in my classroom to promote cooperative learning, but there are times when the students need to work on quiet, independent tasks. Each has a "quiet work spot" that they go to for these tasks. This involves them being spread out around the room a bit. Some sit at tables normally reserved for small group lessons. I also have folders that we use to create a "mini-office" when they are working in these spots. This set up is ideal for testing, but because we also use it for other activities during a typical week, it provides a feeling of normalcy during a test which leads to a relaxed atmosphere.

  • Place a sign on your door to let others know there is an assessment taking place. Tell neighboring classrooms.

  • Whenever possible, give the assessments in small groups. I use my Common Core Math Assessments as an activity during the Teacher's Choice Rotation of Math Workshop because I find it helpful to watch them working. I can ask questions and make observations to better understand their thinking. I typically take notes or even engage in conversation at appropriate times to identify misconceptions. This is so helpful in planning future instruction.

  • When designing your own assessments make them easy to correct and simple for the parents to understand.

Click to Access and Download...

I designed an assessment packet to use with my 3rd graders. It included 3 assessments for each of the math CCSS. This allowed me to use one to identify their current understanding after introducing and practicing a new concept and another to use as an assessment after formal instruction. I reserved the third one as a review to ensure they retained the skill down the road. 

The packet also included a data notebook for the students to track their progress which was great for communicating progress during Parent/Teacher Conferences. The other two components are a grade book that I keep specifically for CCSS along with the lesson planning sheets I use for designing differentiated lessons for guided math instruction.

I had received requests from teachers to create identical packets for other grade levels. I'm happy to share that the Second Grade Assessment Packet as well as the Fourth Grade Assessment Packet are also available.

{Download my Product Catalog to see all of the CCSS Math Products currently available}


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