Encouraging Positive Attitudes About Testing

Our teachers have been preparing our students all year for the testing window we are now in. tape-measure Many of those strategies included best practices like bench-mark testing, curriculum mapping, or introducing literacy standards across all subject areas–to name a few. Just like a good sports team must practice the fundamentals to be prepared for competition, these embedded curriculum standards must be in place for students to be successful.

In addition to the fundamentals, our teachers have also tried to encourage positive attitudes. I want to share two creative school-wide efforts they organized to motivate students prior to EOI Testing this year:

1. EOI Reward Breakfast
Earlier this semester, our teachers organized an End-of-Instruction Exam Reward Breakfast that was held for a three-hour block one morning. The goal was to provide a biscuits and gravy breakfast for every student who had scored satisfactory or above on at least one EOI exam the year before.

Each student was provided a ticket for each test he or she had passed. Those tickets were placed in baskets for drawings of great door prizes. Over 350 students were served by teachers, counselors, and administrators. Afterwards, students were treated to a movie in the auditorium followed by a time for door-prizes.

Some of the reward items, including gift cards and electronics, were donated by local vendors. We also used funds earmarked from our activity account to purchase the breakfast items and additional awards for students.

This breakfast has become an annual tradition at our school–one that students look forward to every year. An awesome group of teacher volunteers coordinate the event, arrange for room coverage of students not attending, work with our cafeteria staff to prepare the meal, and set up the entertainment.

2. Bulldog Bootcamp
A couple of years ago, a team of teachers and I visited a neighboring school district where teachers there held a week-long “bootcamp” prior to testing. Our curriculum director and curriculum committee adopted the idea this year to promote our own “Bulldog Bootcamp” one-day version (our school mascot is the bulldog).

In our fall professional development, each teacher was asked to prepare a lesson plan that would be a good test-practice activity prior to spring testing. Then in the spring, we chose the Friday before testing to implement.

On Bulldog Bootcamp day, teachers wore camouflage and students were encouraged to do so as well. Every hour, students were introduced to a lesson to remind them of how to be prepared for their EOI’s. These lessons were not just in EOI subject area classes but in every elective as well.

Our track coach, who is a big proponent of good nutrition, spoke to our students during morning announcements about the importance of sleep and nutrition for testing.

Even our student council students got into the motivating. They put on music during lunch times and invited students to dance with them as they were getting pumped up for testing. It was a fun and informative day, and we had lots of positive feedback. We invited our local newspaper to report on the event. I emailed a slideshow/video montage of the day to our teachers afterwards.

Preparing students for testing begins with teachers committed to good instruction. But providing some fun, energy-filled pre-testing events, you can help set the tone for the tough weeks of testing they will experience.

Even though you cannot control what state mandates you are asked to implement, you can control your attitude about it. Students have enough to be stressed about without our negativity adding to the stress.

One of the most exciting part of being a principal is being surrounded by teachers who are also school leaders–educators willing to go the extra mile to inspire, serve and encourage students.

So what creative ways can your team motivate and encourage your students as they go into testing?

Now It’s Your Turn
I know other schools are doing creative activities I would love to hear about. What are some activities you used this year to motivate positive attitudes about testing? Share with the rest of us.

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker