When those words are used together, many emotions surface. Some people get angry about testing and feel it isn’t fair. Some people just blow it off as something we have to do. Others, especially the students, become very anxious. Whatever emotion testing conjures, testing is unavoidable. We are tested in some way throughout our entire lives. Getting through the AIR testing is very easy if the students follow a few simple steps.
The first thing that students need to remember is that they are prepared. Throughout this entire school year and their entire educational career, the students have been working hard to fill their toolboxes. They have been working on story problems and equations in math; they have been writing essays and reading and analyzing stories in English; and they have been analyzing scientific theories and reasoning in science.
On top of all of the studying, the students have been applying this information in all of their classes. The application process helps in the retention of the information and engages true learning. The students have all of the tools they need to perform well; they will just have to open those drawers in their toolboxes to use them.
In addition to a well-stocked toolbox, our middle school students just need to relax. Relaxing for a big test is difficult for most students. The pressure of testing may be overwhelming and some people my freeze during the test.
One way to relax before a big test is to rest and not think about the test. Students need to make sure they are getting enough sleep the night before each test. They need to detach early from their electronic devices, clear their minds and go to bed early in order to rest before the big day.
Another way to relax is to view the test as a game. Many of our students are familiar with gaming. If they treat the test as a timed game in which they have to earn as many points as they can before the time runs out, they will ease some of the tension.
Another way students can ease test anxiety is to look at it as a way to show off what they know. Many students have test anxiety because they are worried about what they do not know. This is a backwards way of viewing any test. The focus during any test is to show off what is known. If students start looking at testing as a way to show off their knowledge, then they will feel more at ease during any type of examination.
During the educational process and throughout their entire educational career, students have been assessed on what they know and do not know. They have then been retaught and reassessed over what they have not understood. Thus, they know more than what they do not know and the AIR test is their time to shine.
Unfortunately, testing is here to stay. We will continue to test students for the foreseeable future. In order to be successful, the students need to remember that they have all of the tools in their toolboxes; they need to relax and rest; and they need to show off what they know. I am not guaranteeing that this is the magic bullet to do well on all testing, but this will at least help them relieve some of the anxiety they may be having.
Local columnist Gary Swartz is the Norwalk Middle School principal.