5 Reminders for Success During the Testing Season
The holidays have passed us by and the season for testing is upon us. As a testing coordinator, you know what is coming, but even the best among us can get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the new semester and it is easy to let things slip. These five reminders will help new and seasoned coordinators alike set the stage for testing success this season.#1 - Build a Team
I consider building a team the most important piece in having a successful testing season. You do not have to bear the testing load by yourself, and if you are to thrive in this demanding role, you need allies. Whether you are a teacher, counselor, assistant principal, or principal, you need support. You need people you can trust and count on when test day arrives. If you are a teacher or counselor, be sure to connect with your school administrators. They will be key to helping you ensure an orderly day of testing. If you are a school administrator, recruit counselors and teachers who may be able to fulfil additional roles. Having people that can help you check attendance, run reports, call homes, find coverage for absences, and a myriad of other tasks is crucial. Building a team ensures that students get the best test environment possible and ensures your health and sanity throughout the process.#2 - Stay on Top of Student Accommodations
Tracking accommodations data is no simple task. Limited access to student accommodations data, last minute changes to student accommodation profiles, and student turnover can present challenges for even the most experienced testing coordinators. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, block some time on your calendar each week to follow up on accommodations changes. Take time to review the data and update your spreadsheets and reports. Make sure your team double checks the information to ensure accuracy. TestHound users only need to log in and process Auto Pilot changes. It is also a good idea to have someone review and verify correct data on the TestHound Master Accommodations report a day or two before the test.#3 - Build Out the Test Day Plan EARLY
This task tends to scare people because of the amount of work required. I have seen even seasoned coordinators wait longer than they should to get started. Hopefully, you are experienced in multi-page Excel workbooks or Access, but that will only get you so far. Working out the logistics of test day or a test window may reveal unexpected roadblocks that you need to be in front of to manage successfully. Make sure you have begun planning no later than 3-4 weeks prior to a major test administration. For my fellow TestHound users, I want to emphasize this even more! It is easy to have a false sense of security when you know you can do the organization of weeks of testing in less than an hour, but you never know what might come up. Do not let yourself wait until the last few days before testing to get started. Stay ahead of the game!#4 – Consider Displacement Rooms
Learning does not stop just because testing has begun. If all students at your school are not testing at the same time, consider where you will send displaced students so they may continue instruction while others are testing. In some cases, you can leave most of your students in their regular rooms and "top off" those spaces with students whose classrooms are used for testing. This means you need a comprehensive list of testing rooms, as well as rooms where you can send students to study while their peers test. This can be as simple as a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet. TestHound users can create alternate schedule "test administrations" to set up a non-testers schedule, complete with rosters and attendance forms, or create a "non-testers" session in the same administration.#5 - Make Sure Everyone Knows Where to Go
Once test day arrives, the controlled chaos begins! Students in grades 3-5 will likely have less trouble knowing where to go because you will probably be testing them in their homeroom class. That does not mean you need to be any less prepared with documentation on where students go than the coordinators working grades 6-12! Packets with class rosters for the administrators at your schools are a must. Posting that same list in a main office window can also ensure everyone gets where they need to be. Again, this type of document can be made with Word or Excel. TestHound users who have set up their tests in the system just need to find the right report and click "print".
Testing coordinators across the country have common needs when it comes to planning and preparing for test days. Staying organized, doing work in small bites in the weeks leading up to the testing date or window, and having the right team and resources will make all the difference. Testing season is here, so get started now so you can ensure the success of your test administration and the success of your students!