State testing season is approaching, and that means added stress for students and teachers alike. We put all our time and energy into helping our students learn. We try to make learning fun for them and engage them in every lesson. Now, we have to get them to sit still for hours and take a test. Here are some ways to motivate your students to do their best.
How to Motivate Your Students for State Testing
As a third grade teacher, my students are new to state testing. They all enter with different feelings about it. Some are dreading it and worry about it all year long. Others are excited because their older siblings told them about some of the perks of testing days.
No matter how your students are feeling about testing, it’s your job to make sure they take it seriously and do their very best. Here are some ways to motivate them.
#1 – Explain to your students why this test is different from the others.
You’ve probably done some practice tests and samplers with your students. Depending on how much test prep your district does, your students may have the idea that this is “just another test”.
My students do the CDT test twice to gather data that we analyze to drive our instruction. We structure those tests like the PSSA to give the students practice with testing for a longer period of time. However, those tests cover concepts that we didn’t teach yet. We tell the students to take their best guess on those questions. Obviously, we don’t want the students guessing on questions on state testing.
Prior to state testing, I have a talk with my students about why this test is different. I tell that that we’ve learned all the concepts this time, so they should be using their strategies to answer the questions, not guessing.
I also explain to them that we use this test to see how well our school is doing. We want to show everybody just how much we’ve learned this year, so we want to take our time and take it seriously.
#2 – Plan some fun activities for the remainder of the day.
I make a deal with my students. If they take their time on the test, we will spend the rest of the day doing fun lessons. My school district expects us to continue instruction. We aren’t allowed to just play games the rest of the day. However, we plan lessons that the students are really interested in to keep them engaged and motivated.
We do a novel study of Bunnicula, a unit on the Titanic, and start our science plants unit. Everything is hand-on and high interest. Since we do the reading tests the first week, we also plan fun math reviews for that week.
#3 – Give your students little treats each morning.
Each morning of testing, my students are excited to find little treats on their desks. They come with motivational sayings to get the students in the right mindset for the day. Since my school district provides breakfast on testing days, we save the treats for when everyone is done with the test.
Head over to the Teach Without Tears TPT Store to pick up these state testing motivational sayings for FREE!
#4 – Use a sticker chart as a visual.
Before we start testing, I tape a sticker chart to the side of each of my students’ desks. It has a box for each day of testing. To earn a sticker for the day, my students have to take their time, check their work, and sit quietly when they are finished.
At the end of each day, we have an extra recess for the students who earned the sticker. This is a big deal, because third graders only have a 10-minute recess before lunch at my school. They work hard to earn an extra recess.
At the end of the two weeks of testing, we have a board game afternoon for anyone who has all the stickers. They get to bring board games from home and play with their friends. This is also a big motivator!
Download my sticker chart at the bottom of this post. You can edit it to match your state’s testing format.
Use these test-taking strategies to prepare your students for state testing.
If state tests are stressing your students, check out these tips for relieving their test-taking anxiety.
Want more tips to make teaching less stressful? Sign up for the Teach Without Tears newsletter below, and join our private Facebook group to ask all your questions.
What Do You Think?
What do you do to motivate your students to do well on state tests?
Let me know in the comments below.
If you enjoyed this post and think your teacher friends will, too, please click the button to share it on your favorite social media platform.
Subscribe to the Teach Without Tears Newsletter
Plus, get this sticker chart to motivate your students to do their best on state tests.