Preparing Year Long for Spring Assessments

By Gwen Mak, CEI Intern 

Mother and child in Ukrainian national cloth

Spring is finally here (well almost– here in DC our cherry blossoms are delayed), and that means schools across the United States are preparing for ‘spring tests.’ These assessments are a source of stress and pressure for many. This year, the stress level and pressure is increased as many schools continue to transition to the new Common Core state tests.

To help teachers and administrators prepare, we’ve compiled a few tips from other school districts. Some of the steps below may work even in the short term. Others will be most effective if you start now to reduce the stress and increase the readiness for next Spring. We recommend that you: 

  • Identify ‘Testing’ Coaches. There are still some misconceptions among the general public and even among teachers and school administrators about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and assessments. Identifying or preparing ‘experts’ who are available to answer questions accurately is critical to reducing misinformation and increasing the readiness of schools. School districts in Tennessee have designated ‘Common Core Coaches‘ who can answer questions and generate confidence in the new programs.
  • Find Technology Partners. Technology plays a key role in the implementation of the new assessments. Many schools and districts may not yet have the infrastructure necessary. Begin by seeking referrals and ‘do your homework’ when it comes to researching providers and their services. By starting out with a good provider who can become a partner, the implementation process will be much smoother down the road.
  • Educate Teachers about the Technology for Assessments.  Teachers will be on the ‘˜ground-level’ when it comes to implementing the Standards as well as administering the assessments. This means they need the necessary support and background knowledge to be successful.  Individual schools might consider training courses specifically showing teachers how the new technology and programs work.  For many teachers, the new Standards are a source of stress simply because they require incorporating new technology into the classrooms.  This is an easy pressure point to remove with training and support.  (Now that your state has adopted the common core )
  • Realize that “Slow and Steady Wins the Race.” It may be a race to the top, but it  can’t be a matter of speeding through the preparation. Many of the schools that are leading the pack have been working through this for several years with their teacher leadership teams.   

As with the adoption of all new programs, the transition to new state assessments can be a daunting task.  But, as a nationwide effort, there are many people, schools, and states involved, meaning there is a wide network for support and collaboration.  The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) website is a source for a variety of helpful resources.

And as always, watch this space for more information and possibilities for connections and collaborations.

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