I was going to title this post "Exposure Can be the Best Cure for Test Anxiety" but I'm afraid that may scare a few of you away; after all, you've just completed testing for the year and would like to forget the stress and anxiety testing time produced. I understand but let's look at this with the coming excitement of a new school year.
We instinctively know the more we expose students to test styles in format and construction, the more they are likely to be comfortable taking a test. I'd like my students to concentrate on the prompt, not on the way the prompt is presented. Allowing students the opportunity to experience the format and construction of a test more than once or twice during your course is time well spent. Rehearse the "test day" procedures, of course, but don't ignore other ways to insert the format: in-class experiences or when there is a substitute or even a homework assignment.
The protocol below comes from the Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, but any teacher can use this format to assist in achievement. If your state has a particular format, adopt it and expose students to it well before the day of reckoning. There are outlets (Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers) that offer at-the-ready prompts for you if you are willing to take the time to find them or you may find released test items that provide format/font/layout, etc. Search and you will find! Let me know what you think.
READ-THINK-WRITE FORMAT (Writing, Feedback, Reading)
Description: Based on the Texas STAAR writing prompt format, Read-Think-Write includes scaffolds that allow students to analyze a written passage or image, think through listed considerations, and write an expository, narrative, analytical, or persuasive essay in a clear and concise fashion.
Application: Once students have practiced the format, Read-Think-Write can be used in language arts, science, or social studies courses as an in-class experience or with a substitute or as a homework assignment.
Process: Prepare the four part Read-Think-Write prompt(s) based on the topic of study. Map out elements of the prompt. Begin with a “Read” or “Look” section by providing a clear written passage, poem, image, or other relevant information. Next, in the “Think” section include a reworded or generalized scaffold statement that will focus students’ writing efforts. Finally, in the “Write” section, compose the focused prompt and provide a bullet list of elements (up to five) that must be included, labeling it “Be sure to-” (See example below)
Reference and/or for more information:
STAAR: "Deconstructing the Writing Rubric"
Alison Thetford, M.Ed