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TestSMART: It's all about doing the best on the test.



It's All About Doing the Best on the Test

Quick: This is a test.

  • What’s the best way for students to show how much they've learned, and still need to learn?

  • What's the best way for teachers to determine how to meet each student"s needs?

  • What's the best way for schools to ensure students meet important standards?

The answer is: Testing.

Research shows that students do best when schools apply a variety of assessments, everything from teacher observation to art projects to standardized tests. The gold medal in education, then, is achieved by measuring student learning by a variety of approaches, as San Diego Unified does.

Testing provides important academic results, and it's the law. Our district complies with all federal testing mandates and state requirements through California"s Standardized Testing and Reporting program, known as STAR. In the same way physicians perform annual physical examinations to maintain optimal patient health, our testing program provides comprehensive academic check-ups for students, teachers and schools.

So, when springtime brings a fresh crop of assessments, our schools use innovative ways to keep students as sharp as their No. 2 pencils.

  • Roll out the red carpet: Literally, Golden Hill K-8 rolls out a red carpet during test week and cheers students on as they enter like stars. This simple exercise reinforces to students that they're champs for tackling hard tasks like big tests.

  • Go Team! Madison High throws its students a rousing pep rally, complete with cheerleaders. Staff performs skits about testing. Administrators even dress as elves to show how committed they are to meaningful assessment. What better way to break the tension than to see your principal outfitted as a leprechaun?

  • STAR Wars: Serra High takes a youth-friendly approach with its STAR Wars themed plan. On the serious side, Serra lays out for students and parents exactly what levels students need to reach, and what testing means for them and for their school. It's a great exercise in goal-setting. And it works: Serra"s scores shot up, passage rate of the state High School Exit Exam is up, and parent involvement is up. May the force be with Serra.

  • Lesson Plans: At Golden Hill K-8 and Correia and Mann Middle, teachers approaching testing as a literary genre, complete with its own vocabulary. (For example, the word "angle" means one thing in math, and yet another  thing in language arts.) Edison Elementary videotaped sample test-strategy lessons in action for each grade level, to share with other teachers and schools.

  • Everybody likes a kiss: A great way to show support and defuse test anxiety is the Testing Survival Kit. Simply fill a baggie with a Smartie candy, a fresh pencil, a pencil grip, an encouraging sticker, a little message and a chocolate kiss.