Use these four tips to help your students — and yourself — stay sane during testing season. Plus, learn how you can plan now for post-testing, holistic assessments in your classroom.

Each year, a flurry ensues at my school as we approach the start date for the yearly standardized tests. Our staff meetings become like a mission control center with a countdown to “the start date,” and we are asked to rank students based on their likelihood of moving from one score band to another — and then we are asked to turn into teaching superheroes to push those students over the cusp. We are given tips on bizarre strategies that help students to test better and debate whether we are “teaching to the test” by teaching test-taking strategies instead of content. The hoops we end up jumping through are enough to drive us crazy.

Determine what you want to be sure students have encountered prior to testing and make sure you have planned ample time for it.

As the tenth anniversary of NCLB has come and gone, both new and experienced educators continue to wrestle yearly with the standardized testing culture that has pervaded the educational experience of nearly every American child and teacher. Despite the requests for waivers to exempt certain states from NCLB, the majority of students and their teachers will go through a few weeks of testing mania this spring. Here’s some practical advice on how to get through it with the least pain and use the time after testing to assess what your students have learned more holistically than a multiple choice test can ever do.

Avoiding Test Mania Tip 1: Calendar a Plan of Attack

To feel more in control of the remaining days until testing starts, adjust your plans for units of study to reflect the start date of testing and the end of school. Determine what you want to be sure students have encountered prior to testing and make sure you have planned ample time for it. I am not advocating for you to consider standardized tests as the only valid measures of student learning and achievement. However, when you feel rushed and frazzled because you feel you still have lots to cover and not enough time, it translates negatively to your students’ feelings of preparedness, and that affects their performance and sense of achievement. To avoid this:

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