Little Things We Overlook

This semester students in READ 6306 each wrote a post for this blog. Their post needed to relate to the course topic in some way.

By Mary Guerra

When we hear the words “standardized state tests” we have a tendency to roll our eyes or become sick to our stomach.  In reading “A teachers guide to standardized reading tests” by Lucy Calkins, I learned a lot of small tricks that sometimes we think are common sense but in reality make a whole difference.

 In preparing for “the day”, educators do all sorts of things to set the tone for the day but they don’t realize how much they throw off the students.  Calkin states that test day is already a “very bad day” for students, so don’t make it worse for them.  By this she means not to change the setting of the room from one day to the next or send them off to an unfamiliar place.  Teachers need to have students familiar with the setting, if you are planning on rearranging desk on day of test, make sure students are familiar with it so that they don’t feel like they are walking into an unfamiliar place.

Calkin also talks about taking the responsibility to easing our student’s anxieties about the text.  Every school does something different the day before the test.  We need to show students how to be confident and serious about standardized tests, but at the same time not pressure them so much and cheer them on.

In this book, Lucy Calkins, gives several tips to prepare before and after “the test”.  One of the tips she says is usually a trap for students is when students pick an answer that relates to their life.  “Use the text, not your life, to pick your answer” (Calkin, 1998).  This is something teachers tend to forget to tell students and students are caught up in wanting to finish the test that whatever sounds familiar is what they will pick.  Sometimes it is important to refer to your life but students need to know how to read the questions and refer back to the passages.

 One of the major tips Calkins gives teachers is about the test reports.  Depending on the scores is how our community and administrators will look at us, but we need to be knowledgeable on what the scores have to say and who or what they are being compared to.  Just because some districts do not take the time to show us how to read the test reports doesn’t mean you cant take the initiative to learn how to read the reports.  Teachers need to be knowledgeable of every detail so that when they are asked questions by parents or administrators they are able to defend themselves.  Whether scores went up or down, teachers need to be knowledgeable of how their students did and if there were any gains.

I highly recommend this book for educators to read to help ease the jitters and query feeling about standardized test.  Lucy Calkins has many scenarios that we can relate to and is humorous about many of them.  After reading this book you will have an ease about standardized test and have a different view towards them.


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