Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Testing Tuesday: Accommodating Students

I've been pretty busy today and didn't have much time for today's Testing Tuesday.  BUT, I wanted to talk briefly about how to handle difficult testing situations with challenging students.  

We have a good amount of freedom to have students test in various settings around the building.  Students can test with paras and teachers in whatever setting we feel best sets them up for success.  During our six days of testing I usually only have about half of my class in the computer lab with me.  The rest of my students are in other settings where I feel they'll be able to do their best.

The biggest thing is to know what is allowed by your school / district / state.  I'm one of the head assessment people in my building now, so I've been studying up on what is and isn't allowed.  There are a lot of specifics on taking the test itself, but some accommodations are pretty much just good practice in any testing situation.

If you have this freedom, here are a few suggestions on how to set students up for success.

  1. Make sure students are comfortable with the person they're testing with.  Some of my lower students spend a lot of time with some of our paras when they do interventions.  I have to say my paras are the real rock stars and really build great relationships with the kids.  A child will want to perform their best with someone who they know and trust.  I really try to not have my students test with someone they don't have a relationship with.  
  2. Find the time of day when kids are most alert.  It ends up most years that my class tests first thing in the morning.  For most kids this is best, but for some, it's not.  For example, I had a student a few years ago who always had a rough morning getting from home to school in one piece.  Her mom would walk her to class and I could always tell by the looks on their faces how the day had started.  For this student, afternoons were the best times to test.  If the morning was rough it was usually forgotten by the afternoon.  Kids don't test well when their minds are elsewhere.
  3. Give 'em a break!  If your assessments aren't timed (like ours), let you students take their time so that they're more relaxed.  Each part of our tests usually takes the kids only 45 minutes or so, but that can still be a long time to sit and work.  I encourage my students to get up and take a quiet stretch break every few problems.  I also allow my students to bring snacks during testing weeks.  If we test first thing in the morning I encourage them to eat a good breakfast, but allow the kids to enjoy a snack afterwards.  If we test later in the morning I let my kids enjoy their healthy snack before going to the testing rooms.

How do you accommodate students during testing?  


  1. My state is pretty picky and has to approve all accommodations expect for Visual, Verbal, and Tactile reminders to stay on task and frequent breaks. With approval, we can do small group testing, have the questions and answers read to the kids (in specific situations) and the use of various tools, such as a 100s chart or a place value chart. However, this only applies to Special Education students who qualify for these accommodations. Our 504 students also have a few accommodations, but they're blanketed. Other than that, the general education students have to take the test in the same environment and in the same way. This year with new standards for testing (harder than before) we only have four hours to complete the test, including breaks for restroom, water, and brain breaks! Some kids used to take all day for these lengthy tests, so we are stressing out!

    Buzzing with Ms. B

    1. Wow! That really stinks... We have to fill out documentation on all students, but thankfully we have to flexibility to test in whatever setting we feel is best for the kids. The big thing is that we're putting these accommodations in place before testing... Such as we have them take practice tests or a chapter math test in a small group setting.


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