M-CESC Teaching & Learning

March Focus: State Testing

What is Test Anxiety?

How can I help reduce test anxiety for my students?

According to Stacy Tornio, a senior editor of WeAreTeachers, there are a number of things a teacher can do to help his/her students reduced text anxiety. While she lists ten suggestions, I believe the most impactful one would be to make the school a test-friendly environment. During the days and weeks of high stakes tests, make the school one where preparation is top priority. Include families to help ensure that students are getting plenty of rest and appropriate nutrition on the days before the tests. Celebrate the efforts that students are putting forth in learning the material. Provide more brain breaks and recess time during testing weeks. Practice changes in schedules and seating arrangements to help reduce additional anxiety.

She also recommends that teachers reduce their own test-related anxiety. Student performance is often viewed by teachers as a personal reflection of their effectiveness. Students will pick up on your stress and allow it to affect them. Be sure to get plenty of sleep, yourself, before tests, and RELAX - You have prepared them well!

Preparing Students

In order to prepare students for the online test platform, be sure to practice multiple times throughout the year. With the number of tools provided on each assessment (strike-out, highlighting, etc.), give students time to "play" before you have them work through practice problems. Wouldn't you rather spend their testing window focusing on the test questions rather than fiddling with the pitch and rate of the read-aloud tool? Students can log into the practice tests and begin viewing the tools and types of questions they may encounter on their grade level test.

Whenever possible, consider providing students with online testing formats. Examples of those can include Edulastic, Edcite or MasteryConnect with the goal being that students can practice typing in answers, manipulating questions such as drag and drop and multi-select, as well as equation builders and graphing in math. Desmos provides an online calculator that is nearly identical to the version provided within the testing platform.

Finally, prepare students by exposing them to questions similar to those found on the state tests. Throughout the year, utilize the released test questions from previous years' tests to assess student learning and build student confidence and stamina in answering deeper level questions.

Test Security Violations

Districts must establish a written test security plan each school year and present the test security training to all employees that have any level of test access by Oct 1. The district security policy must establish written procedures to protect the security of test materials that include:

  • Define standards of ethical practices and how they are monitored;
  • Test security procedures;
  • Preparing test, administering and/or scoring a test, and/or interpreting and/or using any result of a test;
  • Procedures for reviewing test materials and practices; and
  • Procedures for investigating incidents/violations.

As can be viewed in the picture, nearly 47% of testing violations occurred when teachers gave clues or helped coach students through a problem. Some forms of coaching are not always intentional. Many times a small mistake (like a number line on the way or an anchor chart) ends up with an entire class's tests being made invalid and the school under investigation.

Cell phones, smart watches and internet connected devices were 35% of all security violations. Districts are required to have a policy on electronic device usage during and after test sessions. Accessing an electronic device during testing is grounds for a test to be invalidated. If a student was observed with a cell phone during or after the test session, it is important to determine if any test question, passage or prompt was photographed, texted or in any way compromised. In extreme cases where test questions, passages or prompts have been posted on any social medium, the district must immediately contact the Office of Curriculum and Assessment.

Test administrators may have a cell phone for medical and technological emergencies, to use as a time keeper or to otherwise perform necessary test‐ related actions. Test administrators should be reminded to never take photographs of students, tests, computers or the testing room during testing. Reproducing the state tests in anyway is a security violation For example many issues have occurred with; Taking pictures or video of tests before, during or after the test session. Photocopying and scanning tests Sharing test questions or shots of tests on social media and Educators writing down test content for test prep purposes.

Simple things like a teacher running to the bathroom during testing, taking a phone call during testing, or just stepping into the hall for a short conversation lead to tests being unsecure and result in a security violation.

According to the ODE's Tests Rules Book: "Any alleged test security violation of ORC 3319.151, or any unethical testing practice under OAC 3301-7-01, or any violation of the school’s test security procedures under OAC 3301-13-05, is to be reported to the Office of Assessment as soon as the alleged violation becomes known to the school district or participating school." An investigative process follows, and "if the district investigation determines that a test security violation occurred, any of several consequences may follow: one or more students’ tests may be invalidated; a district board of education, after appropriate procedures are followed, may suspend or terminate an employee found guilty of helping a student to cheat or another type of test security violation; the State Board of Education, following appropriate procedures, may suspend a certificate, permit or license of an employee; and a law enforcement agency, following an appropriate investigation, may prosecute under the state criminal code."

Big picture
Big picture