Testing with Joy, Not Anxiety

“You’ve learned the things you need

To pass that test and many more—

I’m certain you’ll succeed.

We’ve taught you that the earth is round,

That red and white make pink,

And something else that matters more—

We’ve taught you how to think.”

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!
By Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky & Lane Smith
Two Almond Acres students in red and blue polo shirt uniforms smile while working at their desks

As a tuition-free public K-8 charter school, Almond Acres actively tests and assesses every student. Our annual standardized testing event for grades 3-8 is approaching, so we thought we would take a moment to share our testing philosophy and how we help students approach testing, which, just like taxes, is an inescapable part of life. Hint: It has to do with celebration! 

Let’s start with some basics of what standardized testing is and is not:

  • Your child’s innate ability is not defined by the test. 
  • Your child’s future is not decided by these tests.
  • Tests provide a snapshot of skills learned in this particular stage of life. 
  • Standardized tests are not all-encompassing.

Testing is just one of the ways we measure our success and growth. Almond Acres’ holistic approach to learning means that we teach to the whole child. A standardized test can’t measure heart, mind, body, and soul.

So Why Test?

In short, standardized testing is required by the State of California. All schools receiving public funds must participate in the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress. The data we receive from the test is used to improve instruction and tailor teaching closer to student needs. It also helps us set up goals, accommodations, plan for success, and target areas of intervention.

We firmly believe that the quality, standards-based teaching and learning that occurs all year prepares our students to pass and surpass standardized tests. Our project-based learning approach helps students gain real-world experience. It’s not just memorization—students have the opportunity to apply learning in an authentic, meaningful way. And, we’ve taught them how to THINK!–making it easier to tackle any question thrown their way.
In 10 years of public school operation, we’ve repeatedly seen standardized testing results confirm what we already know: our whole child curriculum is a key to success.

An Almond Acres student in a blue sweatshirt uniform works independently at a computer

Teacher Tips for Testing

Our teachers use our yearly testing event as an opportunity to prepare students to approach test taking as a genre. Students learn specific techniques to break apart tough questions unique to standardized tests, such as highlighting, re-reading and looking for clues. We also find great success with these positive affirmations to reduce test taking anxiety and increase confidence:

  • I know I can do this!
  • I will do my best work.
  • I am intelligent, smart, and amazing!
  • I will take my time.
  • I will stay focused.
  • I will stay positive.

As always, we encourage students to get a good night’s sleep and eat lots of healthy brain food (like protein and veggies) before the test. We also allow students to enjoy a lollipop or stick of gum during the test–it’s proven to help focus and calm our minds! 

4 Almond Acres students work at a table using paper and pencil

Testing is a Celebration!

Sometimes it’s as simple as a shift in thinking to change our mindset away from anxiety toward testing as a celebration. Like a volleyball game that you spend all season practicing for and then play, tests are an opportunity to celebrate our hard work and success. 

By celebrating this achievement — the test-taking itself  — we purposefully shift the dynamic from a pressure-filled event to one of inclusivity and shared experience. We introduce the idea of learning in our classrooms together as practice and testing itself as the ‘game,’ or our chance to show our stuff!  With preparation and practice, every opportunity to take a test can be a positive experience. Come celebrate with us at Almond Acres!

 About AACA
Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Located in Paso Robles in a newly built, state-of-the-art facility, AACA is open to all students from all communities. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids!

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