Assessments and Data New Teacher

Standardized Testing Survival Guide

April 24, 2017

Spring time means longer days, outdoor recess, and the dreaded standardized testing season. I am sure I am not alone in saying that standardized tests are far from loved. The teachers are stressed and the students are worn out; however, I have gathered some tips and tricks to help make testing a little bit more enjoyable for everyone.

My third graders just finished their NWEA-MAP assessments. This type of test required my kiddos to be on the computer for four sessions that each lasted about two hours (yikes!!!). Even though I was dreading losing the valuable instruction time, these tips and tricks helped the kids see the value in the tests and to give it their all.


Goal Setting

 For the NWEA-MAP test the students have very clear growth goals they need to achieve. Instead of having my kiddos take the test without a plan I made sure they understood the goal they needed to achieve. I was worried they wouldn’t be able to understand the numbers but by putting them into kid friendly examples, I helped them go into the test with a positive mindset.

Making growth in four different subject areas (math, reading, language, and science) can be overwhelming! To help make goal setting manageable I asked the students to pick one subject they wanted to focus on. After picking a subject we brainstormed things they could do to help them reach their goal.

Celebrating Success

To help motivate my students to do their best, I rewarded them in many different ways. Here are just a few of the things I did to celebrate their success.

  • In each test area I gave a prize to the student with the highest score and to the student who made the most growth. This was a great motivator for all of my students.
  • For each test I promised a treat if 80% of the class met their goal. This was hard to reach but the kids pushed each other because the promise of donuts was way too good to pass up.
  • With this particular test you get the scores immediately. As the children finished their tests I sat down with them and discussed their score and helped them determine if they met their goal. This immediate response helped the students stay accountable because they wanted to make me proud.

The day of the test

 Before each test I made sure my students’ brains and bodies were ready to attack the test! We would do a Go Noodle video to get our bodies moving, I shared a healthy snack with my students, and I made sure each child was prepared with a pencil and blank sheet of paper to show their work and track their answers.


As a first year teacher, testing was stressful, but going into testing season prepared and with a positive attitude helped my students rock their tests! Even though we don’t all take the same tests or do testing the way I hope that these ideas help you go into your next standardized test with a sunny outlook.

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