“Do. Your. Best! On. The. Test!” “Tackle the TAKS!” “Master the MAP!”
It’s inevitable that if you’re in education, you’ve heard some sort of cheer or chant trying to pump up kids for the state test at some point in your career. We all have standardized tests, and we don’t have much choice but to give them - but should we be celebrating them? Should we host assemblies and spirit days and other hoopla? Or should we conduct business-as-normal? Here are some pros and cons of state testing celebrations.
Types of Testing Celebrations
Some ideas we’ve seen include inviting over high school cheer teams & pep bands, motivational district speakers, former students giving advice and words of encouragement
As easy as a song connected to the theme played over the announcements or even dress up days.
Gift Each Day
We’ve seen younger classes adopt testing grades and bring treats. Former teachers, support staff and parents can write their students encouraging notes. And of course there are the adorable pinterest printouts “You’re a Smartie” attached to a Smartie.
After each testing session or at the end of each week, teachers may have students dance it out, have a paper snowball fight, outdoor races or more!
Themes for the testing window
“Train like a Boss, Test like a Champ”, “Keep Calm and Test On”, “Believe in Your Selfie” just to name a few...
We are elementary after all, we make a t-shirt for a random Tuesday. So you know we’re gonna need one for state testing.
Celebration Days and/or Incentives
Having a school wide celebration that the test is over can be a relief for teachers and staff and can include water days, dance parties, movies and more. Just exercise caution when attaching ‘earning’ to incentives and not to base those on reaching certain proficiency levels.
Pros of State Testing Celebrations
Celebrations can ensure students know that the test is important to the school.
They take a mandatory, “boring” event and make it more fun.
They can bring consistency to expectations: reminding students to be on time, eat breakfast, etc.
Celebrations can bring greater awareness to the assessment to remind students of their occurrence, and ultimately, also reminding parents.
They can unite students and staff towards a common goal.
Celebrations help the entire school operate as a team, not just the testing grades.
For some, they can serve as a motivation.
Cons of State Testing Celebrations
Celebrations can disrupt the normal schedule.
They can decrease instructional time we already fight to keep.
Celebrations may unintentionally place extra importance on the assessment.
They may escalate students who have high text-anxiety, causing additional stress and doubt to students prior to testing.
Keeping business-as-usual may keep things consistent for students who struggle with change and sensory regulation issues.
Drawing minimal attention can help students perceive it’s just another thing we do.
Evaluating student ‘effort’ is very subjective and can lead to further disillusion from school from some students.
So, what does YOUR school do? Are you pro-hoopla or do you veer towards business-as-usual?