April 18, 2014

Test Prep: Part 1

Ohio's state testing, the dreaded OAAs, will begin soon. It's crazy how testing seems to sneak up on you every year!  When April rears its head, I always end up on the Ohio Department of Education website to select some released test questions for my students to practice.  We generally do a practice assessment each week on a Monday, students self-grade it on a Tuesday, and after I look over their answers Tuesday evening, they are given a sheet with their percentages and check marks for the skills they showed while completing their practice test.  So, all in all, my students will take four "practice tests".  We've currently completed three, with only one left before testing week! Mind you, I only select two texts a week.  I don't want to bog my students down with too much practice.  However, I think it is very valuable for them to practice completing a test. For example, they will get use to having a separate test booklet and answer document to write on. I truly believe my students will be more confident the day of the test due to the practice we've done in advance. 

1. Students take a practice test

*First, I will start by saying that the OAA practice assessments' questions, at least in my mind, are not as rigorous as many of the questions we have been practicing throughout the year.  Many of my students are amazed at how my "find it" type questions there are, where they can simply find the answer in the text, versus having to analyze what they've read. I know that we will be using the  PARCC assessments next year, and I have heard that they will be quite challenging. 

2. Students self-grade their assessments

*I think it is VERY valuable for students to be able to deconstruct their own short answer and extended response questions.  It allows them to see their work from the eyes of an assessor.  They can better understand what they've done wrong if they ended up missing a point.  

*The checklist I use with my students also encourages them to use evidence from the text and to explain the evidence in their responses.  I have seen such an improvement in my students' short answer and extended responses this year. I am incredibly proud of their work!

*When we go over the test questions together, I make sure to demonstrate the verbs used in the questions and how students need to make sure they are answering what is being asked.  I practice this skill throughout the year with our "I can..." statements.  I always call on students to further explain our "I can..." statements, so they get used to breaking down harder words, such as "identify" and "infer".  I am also planning on using my Super Words posters to review these terms one last time this coming week.

3. I check over responses and write down student percentages and give them check marks for the skills they showed while completing their practice test

*Even though this is time consuming, it is worth it!  Students are able to see their growth over the weeks.  It is also good to check off skills students are showing for encouragement.  I also try to make it fun by giving students small prizes for reaching certain amounts of check marks.  

Click below for a copy of my chart/checklist!

I will be posting Test Prep: Part 2 soon!  


  1. Nice post! It's that time of year. What a great way to get everyone in gear! :)
    Creating Lifelong Learners