Common Core Assessments Present Test Anxiety Challenges

Posted by Zack Blois on Apr 11, 2013 2:09:00 PM
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The concept of test anxiety is not new to educators, and great strides have already been made to improve students’ comfort with assessments and tests. However, it's important to note that much of the prevalent test anxiety coping strategies are based on preparing students for the traditional fill-in-the-bubble, seat-and-desk testing format.

PARCC and Smarter Balanced are Bringing Big Changes

describe the imageBeginning in the 2014-2015 school year, the Common Core Assessments (PARCC and Smarter Balanced) will usher in an era of computer-based testing. Additionally, initial reports suggest the tests will take students 7-10 hours to complete

Are your students ready to take a 7-10 hour assessment via a computer or 10” tablet? If not, there’s no reason to panic. Just like traditional tests, the best way to prepare test-anxious students for computer-based assessments is to offer practice and familiarity with the settings, concepts, and expectations.

Helping Students Cope with Computer-based Test Anxiety

1) Ease into the duration and focus required by Computer-based Testing

Think about a training regiment for a marathon. You’re not expected to run 26.2 miles right off the bat, right? Instead, you work your endurance levels up, beginning with shorter distances and steadily increasing as you become more and more ready.

Familiarizing students with the duration and focus required by PARCC and Smarter Balanced’s assessments requires a similar progression. Start slow, asking students to focus for 15-25 minute periods while using the electronic devices. Then, as the tests get closer, try to work your students up towards longer periods (45 minutes, one hour, two hours, etc.).

2) Provide opportunities to practice the new input and response methods

Gone are the days of ‘fill in the corresponding bubble on your answer sheet’. The PARCC and Smarter Balanced Consortiums are interactive and require students to input responses via the keyboard and/or click-and-drag functionality. Students must be aware of these required digital interactions and how they work.

Seek digital educational platforms that mirror the PARCC and Smarter Balanced’s digital functions. This includes typing responses into boxes on the screen and using the mouse/touchscreen to click and drag items digitally into the correct place on the screen.

3) Model the ‘Deeper Dive’ required by the Common Core Assessments

Say goodbye to the testing only simple skills and information as well. According to a recent study by UCLA’s National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST), PARCC and Smarter Balanced both significantly increase the amount of responses requiring the use of support, analysis, and application skills.

To combat students’ surprise towards the ‘deeper knowledge’ questions, utilize peer-based discussions and project/problem-based learning activities to scaffold your students’ ability to take basic learning skills and apply them to higher-order thought and resolutions. Or, in other words, add challange to instruction by going beyond basic skills and memorization.

Lastly, Some Universal Test Anxiety Advice

The following statement may seem cheesy, but it can go a long way with students (when presented in a genuine manner.) Regardless if the assessment requires a pencil-to-paper or finger-to-screen, just remember to reassure your students that no one can be disappointed in them if they give their best effort.

However, providing your kids a ‘heads-up’ on what to expect from the new Common Core digital assessments might help the chances of seeing a calmer, more-collected best effort.

Want more info about the Common Core tests? Download our free online booklet, "Mastering the Common Core Digital Math Assessments" today!

Also, be sure to attend our CCSS Math Assessment Prep Webinar:

More Common Core Assessment Articles:

Common Core Assessment Debuts Online Practice Tests

PARCC Assessments Announce Read-aloud Accommodations

Preparing for the Common Core Digital Assessments

Do PARCC and Smarter Balanced truly assess 'deeper understanding'?

Topics: Common Core Assessments

Wowzers is a comprehensive online math program covering all Common Core State Standards for grades K-8. The research-based program adapts to each learner and allows for an individualized path through the curriculum. Content is presented in multiple ways, and appeals to tactile, auditory, and visual learners. Assessments mirror those found on high-stakes achievement tests and provide teachers and administrators with the information that they need to personalize learning for each student.

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