How to use goal-setting and test prep to help students confidently “take on the test” this year is easier than it sounds! Test prep season is here – whether we agree with standardized testing or not – it happens. So, why not make the best of it and set your students up for success?
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How Do Your Students Feel About Standardized Testing?
As you begin reviewing key concepts in reading and math in preparation for standardized testing, it’s also a good time to think about how your students “see” this time of year and the emphasis on test scores.
Can you imagine that it’s pretty intimidating for some of them?
Many times our students know what they don’t know and it’s not fun for them.
But, teaching kids to have a growth mindset means we need to help them overcome their feelings of intimidation and fear and persevere with difficult things…like mastering a difficult math concept or comprehending difficult text.
If we can help a student set up specific strategies to address their learning needs – they will have the tools to conquer it and confidently “take on the test”!
That’s why I love setting SMART goals with students.
Goal Setting and Test Prep – Where to Start
The first step in helping students succeed is knowing where they are. Are your students knowledgeable of the standards, or do some areas require more practice? By understanding this foundation, you can work with each student to create achievable goals and set them up for success! Test prep becomes a lot easier when there’s an established baseline – so don’t forget to assess progress regularly.
Standards Data Collection
1. Gather student data on all the standards that will be tested.
2. Make a list of those standards and which students need help mastering them.
Check out this post on gathering reading data and planning for student practice.
Goal Setting with Students
To avoid overwhelming a student, choose one standard, to begin with. Let them choose which standard they would like to work on. Buy-in from the student is essential when goal setting.
For example, in reading, a student may need to focus on the main idea and key details – for math, it might be a 3-digit addition with regrouping.
Using these goal-setting worksheets will make it much easier for you and your students. They are set up for SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-specific.
SMART GOALS – Be specific
Helping students be specific with their goals is the most important element. You can’t achieve something that is too vague or too big. Remember – we are trying to increase their confidence.
During test prep, we can set goals for specific standards.
Example: I will be able to find the main idea and 3 key details in a grade-level text.
SMART GOALS – Measurable
Whatever the goal is – we must be able to measure it. For our example goal – you can measure this by giving a student four grade-level texts and asking them to identify the main idea and three key details in each one. You can assess this goal because you have established the baseline of 1) the main idea and 2) three key details. If they don’t accomplish this – the goal has not been reached.
SMART GOALS – Attainable
Is the goal attainable? If your student is reading at grade level – the answer can be yes. But if your student is reading below grade level – the answer may be no, and you need to look for a standard/skill they can attain.
If this is an attainable goal, let’s help the student make a plan to attain it. What specific steps will they take to achieve it?
1. To find the main idea, I need to think about the topic and what the author wants me to know.
2. I can look for 3 key details that the author wants me to know about the topic.
3. I can connect the 3 key details to what the text is all about.
Now, every time the student tries to find the main idea and key details of a text – they have very specific steps to take.
SMART GOALS – Realistic
Is the goal realistic? Can we confidently say this student can reach this goal before standardized testing? Do they believe they can reach this goal?
This is one of the most important elements of goal setting – making realistic, attainable goals that set students up for success and are not disappointing when they can’t reach it.
SMART GOALS – Time Specific
When setting goals, we must set a time period for achievement, especially for standardized testing. Test prep time frames differ for every district, school, and classroom. Consider these questions:
- How much time do you have?
- How soon should you set goals with students?
- Can they achieve it in the time frame?
- What is their current baseline tell us about how much practice they need?
Again, we want to be realistic.
Goal Setting and Test Prep Data Tracking
Use these editable data tracking graphs for test prep standards practice. You can easily edit them to fit any goals you set with your students.
Let your students fill in their graphs. It is very satisfying and motivating for them to see their growth and improvement!
Goal Setting & Test Prep: Celebrate!
Waiting until we get test scores back is way too late to celebrate the achievement of student goals. Many times those scores are released after school is out for the summer. Plan to give formative assessments to your students to measure goal achievement before the test dates.
Then – CELEBRATE IT! These goal achievement certificates are just the thing you need! Your students can proudly take home their certificates and share them with family. You know there’s a special place on the refrigerator for it!
Plus, when your students sit down to take their state test – their confidence will be soaring…and sometimes that’s the most important part of test-taking.
Using goal setting with test prep will help students confidently “take on the test” this year! This packet of goal-setting resources will make it so easy for you to help each of your students prep for the state test this year!
More about Goal Setting:
SMART Goals: Empowering Students to Own Their Learning
Teaching Students How to Set SMART Goals That Make an IMPACT on Their Learning
The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.Robert John Meehan
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