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In Brief

Vol. 5, No. 4 May 2012

A publication for members of the Alliance for Student Activities

Spring Tests: Support for Students and Teachers w By Lyn Fiscus

n Guest speaker. Bring in a motiva-

The arrival of spring means flowers are blooming and warmer weather is here, but so is the standardized testing season. Student activity programs can play an important role in supporting students and teachers during this season. Consider planning some of the following to help create a climate for success on the tests.

tional speaker to inspire students to do their best.

Before Testing Begins n Academic pep rally. Pump up your students just like you do before big sporting events with a pep rally. The rally will help boost students’ confidence that they are prepared for the test while also taking a little of the stress off with fun activities. Create skits, cheers—like “Do your best on the test!” or “S-U-C-C-E-S-S I just need to try my best!”— and relay races with an academic theme. Get some teachers to agree to take a pie in the face, be taped to a wall, or dress up like cheerleaders to cheer the students on. Play motivational music or videos. Have the principal or a well-liked teacher talk about why it’s important to the students and the school for the students to do their best on the tests.

n Game show. Organize a Jeopardystyle or Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader-style game show with students as the contestants and the questions relating to test taking or the subject matter of upcoming tests. Play the game during lunch periods or as part of an assembly.

n Video PSAs. Create a series of short video spots to show on the school’s TV system featuring students in skits that highlight good test practices. Remind students to get a good night’s sleep and eat a healthy breakfast, for example. Show these videos for the week before testing begins.

n Testing tips. Create posters to Student activity programs can play an important role in supporting teachers and students during the spring standardized testing season. hang around school—don’t forget the backs of restroom stall doors— with test-taking tips, or make a flier to hand out to all students.

n Improvement incentives. Offer incentives for improved performance on the tests. For example, if the percentage of eighth graders passing the tests goes up from the previous year, students in that grade will get a special field trip or will receive a pizza party. Or, turn it into a class competition—like you do with canned food drives and other activities—and reward the class that has the most improvement over the previous year. Some schools find that getting the

principal or favorite teachers to agree to do something daring—dye their hair pink, shave their head, sleep on the roof of the school, etc.—if scores improve in all categories has a motivating effect on students.

During Testing n Test survival kits. Give each student a “survival kit” at the beginning of testing season. Make these with plastic baggies filled with items from the Tokens for Test Takers sidebar.

n Red day. Have students wear red on the first day of testing as a statement that they are “red-y” for the tests.

n Attendance rewards. Announce a contest to see which class—either the whole grade level or individual homerooms—has the best attendance on testing days. Award a prize to the class that wins. In case of a tie, draw a winner lottery style from among the classes that tied. Or, give any homeroom with perfect attendance on test day a prize like an ice cream or pizza party.

n Attendance lottery. Give each student a raffle ticket on testing day and draw winners for donated prizes—iPods, bikes, game systems, etc.—at the end of the day.

n Proficiency pancakes. Offer a pancake breakfast organized by a parent group before school on test-

ing day to help ensure students get a good breakfast.

n Brain food. Provide a juice, oatmeal and raisin cookie, or fruit snack for all students during standardized testing breaks.

After the Tests n Bubble Bash. Hold an informal dance after the tests are over to celebrate the end of testing.

n Twister Tournament. Gather as many Twister games as you can and hold a giant Twister tournament to help students de-stress after the tests. Hand out informational fliers on how to recognize stress and ways to relieve it.

Lyn Fiscus is founder of the Leadership Teacher website ( and a former student activities adviser. She serves as Vice President of the Alliance. This article originally appeared in Herff Jones’ Focus newsletter in March 2010.

published Herff Jones. Tokensbyfor Test Takers One way to show support for students during testing is to offer token gifts before or during testing. A few ideas include: • Fun erasers for each student with a note to erase any negative thoughts about test taking • Sharpened #2 pencils for each student with the school’s name and mascot or school colors • A stick of gum with a note encouraging students to “stick to it” during tests • Fireball candy to get “fired up” about doing well on the tests • Chocolate hearts to remind students to put their heart into their work on the tests • Smarties candies to remind students they are smart test takers • Lifesavers with a note that “the power of your brain is your true lifesaver” • A penny to use good “cents” during testing • A toothpick to pick the best answer • A Hershey’s Hug candy to remind students that you support them • Hershey’s Kiss to “kiss your worries goodbye” • Hugs and Kisses candy for “hugs and kisses for putting forth your best effort” • A paper clip to remind students to “keep it together” • Licorice twists or pretzel twists to not let the test “twist” your mind • Starburst candy so students will shine like a star during testing or for an extra “burst” of energy to do a fantastic job • Nestlé’s Crunch mini candy bars with a note to “crunch” the test • Cheerios cereal to “cheer” students on • Lucky Charms cereal for good “luck” on the test • Super bubble gum because you know students will do a “super” job or a note to “blow the top off the test!” • A peppermint because you are “mint” to do a good job on the test

In Brief is published five times per year by the Alliance for Student Activities, a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to promote the value of cocurricular student activities and to provide professional development and support for advisers and future advisers. Board of Directors John Glimco, President Lyn Fiscus, Vice President Ann Postlewaite, Secretary Todd Burlingham, Treasurer © 2012 Alliance for Student Activities

Alliance for Student Activities

• Orange slices on the last day with a note, “orange you glad the tests are almost over?”

In Brief, May 2012  

Newsletter of the Alliance for Student Activities