Taking a Closer Look at Standardized Tests

This semester, students in READ 6329.10 were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By A. Guzman

“The scores need to improve” these seem to be the words that overpower my staff meetings. It seems like everything is about the numbers. However, my question is the following: How do we expect students to pass this infamous test when we as teachers do not prepare them adequately?

The book A Teacher’s Guide to Standardized Reading Tests does an incredibly good job in depicting this problem. I will be concentrating on chapter 5, Rethinking Test Preparation. This does not mean that the other chapters are not as important. Although I am still not finished reading this book I highly recommended to any teacher out there who still feels apprehensive towards their adversary,  the standardized test.  Let’s go  back to the question posed in the beginning about teaching students how to approach this test. Teachers assume that students should know how to take these tests for they have been taking them for a couple of years  depending on the grade level we teach. Wrong!!!

According to authors of the book mentioned earlier “performing well on reading test involves reading, yes, but it also involves a whole host of other skills and attitudes.” The teacher’s pedagogy plays an important role in teaching these skills. If the student is found in  a progressive classroom where he/she is  immersed in rich literature rather than passage after passage the student might need an extra push just because the passages are nowhere near close to a good novel such as The Outsiders and the purpose for reading is different.

As teachers we need to analyze our test preparation methods. How are we preparing our students for the test? In chapter five the authors suggest to look critically at the test preparation we are putting into practice.  One might think, “well my students have enough practice already with the benchmarks”. According to this chapter, test practice is not the same as test preparation. That was a misconception I had. I believed giving my students a passage a week they were getting prepared for the test.

Wrong!!!

There are so many factors to take into consideration when preparing our students for these standardized tests.  The first step I did to better help my students is take a released standardized test. I wanted to see how it felt to sit down and read six different passages that changed genres from left and right. It was not a good feeling.

By taking a closer look at standardized tests and questioning our preparation we will be better able to equip our students with the types of rocks they need to tackle Goliath the test.

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