Worried about the “need” for test prep this time of year and its impact on your teaching?
George Galindo, an implementation leader for Wit & Wisdom®, has great advice on the topic in this District Administration blog post.
Galindo, who also teaches preservice teachers at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, notes that the best way to prepare your students for a state assessment in reading is to keep teaching a high-quality English language arts curriculum aligned to the state standards. He says that’s so much better than spending extra time drilling students on the kind of narrow, discrete reading skills emphasized on most state reading tests.
“We need to shift our focus toward building students’ knowledge and comfort with complex texts instead of narrowing analysis only to a question stem or an isolated standard,” he writes in the post.
When he moved from a teaching role to an administrative position in a school network in Texas, Galindo moved his team away from the kind of traditional test prep you commonly find in schools in spring.
“We could see that spending class time on providing students with multiple-choice questions related to a variety of reading passages from tests wouldn’t help build comprehension skills. Instead, continuing to build a strong base of foundational knowledge through the ongoing implementation of a strong curriculum would better prepare students for the expectations outlined in the state assessment,” he writes in the blog post.
Galindo explains that students benefit from a small amount of explicit preparation with their state’s test format. They should know what they will encounter, such as how many testing sessions they’ll complete and the features of computer-based or paper-based tests. If the test is online, it’s good to practice with digital annotation and note-taking tools. But you don’t have to halt good instruction and stop teaching a high-quality curriculum. He explains that the strong reading habits built into what you already do should help your students succeed on any test they take.
For education leaders, Galindo says it’s vital to empower classroom teachers to shift away from traditional test prep.
He notes, “It might require a shift in school culture around testing, but you can lead meaningful change that positively affects the bottom line—student learning.”
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Chad brings more than 23 years of experience in communications to Great Minds. He has served in three state education agencies, which included time assisting New Mexico’s secretary of education with the adoption of new education reform initiatives; serving as the communications director at the Washington, D.C., Office of the State Superintendent of Education; and working as an assistant to the Florida Commissioner of Education. Chad also worked at the U.S. Department of Education from 2004 to 2009 and served as the deputy assistant secretary for media affairs and strategic communication during his final two years there. Chad is a native of Bloomington, Ill., and graduated from Florida State University.