Strategies for Standardized Tests at PEP

A Student takes a Standardized test

Strategies for Standardized Tests at PEP

In classrooms across Ohio and at PEP, teachers are working hard to prepare all students for what is to come. Their work includes ensuring not only that young people meet grade-level and content standards, but also that they can demonstrate that knowledge on standardized tests. After all, regardless of your stance, standardized tests at PEP and all schools, are a part of our educational system. Students must be as prepared as possible to navigate them.

Fortunately, there are many strategies teachers can use to ensure their students are prepared for testing day.

School and Classroom Strategies

1. Review ODE Content Standards

The Ohio Department of Education has content preparation resources for educators to help them fully integrate Ohio’s Learning Standards into their classrooms in each content area.

2. Practice Multiple Choice Questions

In addition to familiarizing students with the type of content the test will cover, practice questions can help them learn how to be better test takers. For instance, if your students have never seen a multiple-choice question before the standardized test, they may not know to read through all the answers on test day – a situation that sets them up to answer an “all of the above” or “none of the above” question incorrectly. They also may not understand how to use the process of elimination in these types of questions when they aren’t sure of the answer.

3. Familiarize Students with Technology

Since standardized tests are now taken online, ensure students are comfortable navigating the computer. (In some cases, paper tests can be requested.)

4. Review Accessibility Features

ODE’s Ohio Accessibility Manual contains universal tools, designated features and accommodations that may help students achieve their best.

5. Advocate for Equity

It’s important to understand that test bias and unequal access to quality educational experiences resulting from generations of systemic and institutional racism, also play out on standardized test scores. As educators, we can advocate that our legislators take action to promote testing that is equitable.

At-Home Strategies to Support Standardized Tests at PEP

Caregivers can also play a role in ensuring students are positioned as advantageously as possible for standardized tests. In addition to reinforcing the ideas above, caregivers can also support their students with the ideas below.

1. Promote Regular School Attendance

When a young person attends school every day they are accustomed to the routines and expectations at school. They are also exposed to the content they will need to know on test day.

2. Become Familiar with Test Dates

Knowing when standardized tests occur can help you prepare your child and ensure you encourage school attendance on test day.

3. Practice Test Taking

Allow your child the opportunity to practice and become familiar with standardized test taking by completing the practice assessments available on the ODE website.

4. Collaborate with IEP Team

Work with your child’s IEP team to identify specific accommodations that may assist with your child’s success.

5. Engage in Helpful Practices at Home

Encourage your child to get a good night’s sleep the night before the test and to eat a good breakfast the morning of.

Social Emotional Strategies to Boost Test Performance

From a bigger picture standpoint, there are strategies educators and parents can use that will benefit the child in many areas of their lives, while also benefitting test performance.

1. Prepare for Test Anxiety

Many students struggle with test anxiety, not just on standardized tests but throughout their academic careers. Teaching skills like mindfulness, meditation and other regulation strategies can help students learn to tame their anxiety on test day.

2. Adopt a Growth Mindset

Practice and model a growth mindset, an approach described by its founder Carol Dweck, Ph.D., as a way of thinking in which people believe their success depends on time and effort. Those who have a fixed mindset, on the other hand, believe their intelligence and talents are fixed. Adopting a growth mindset can help kids understand that their actions to prepare for the test are fruitful. It can also help them understand that mistakes or poor performance can be improved.

3. Focus on Student Strengths

Grade level state assessments can be difficult for students. This is particularly true for those who have other underlying learning differences or who have missed out on instruction due to behavioral disruptions. Sometimes these students have a hard time with stamina—the amount of sustained time they can focus on a test that is typically set to last 90 minutes. Using a strengths-based approach, educators work with students to find the parts they’re good at, celebrate them, and use them to better prepare for the stress of testing both academically and emotionally; building confidence, giving encouragement, and belief that taking part in testing is a success in and of itself.

Remember the Bigger Picture

Obviously, we want our students to do their best on standardized tests. Yet, at the same time, it’s important not to put too much emphasis on them. One message educators should reinforce while working on testing strategies is that test scores are not a measure of self-worth. They are a moment-in-time measurement of a particular subject. And they are far from perfect at capturing the varied talents of individual students.

At PEP, our mission is to help young people overcome and thrive. One of the many challenges our kids will face in school — and throughout their lives — is assessment. For those who go on to college, testing will continue to be a major part of their lives. Those who enter the workforce must be prepared to complete assessments to maintain employment credentials. Helping young people learn to navigate in a world where assessment is the norm, ensures they have the tools they need to be successful.

Learn More

To learn more about strategies for standardized tests at PEP or our Day Treatment Centers, visit our website. Contact Nicole Molnar, clinical coordinator, at 216-361-7760 ext. 110 or via email to see if a student in your district may be a good fit.

Please note, referrals to PEP’s Day Treatment Centers are made through school districts. Interested parents or caregivers should contact their school administrator.

Contributed by Julie Lanigan, Educational Services Coordinator
Updated 1/10/24