Getting Ready for State Tests

State Tests (PARCC this year) are around the corner and I am compiling some things to help my students (and I) get through the long two weeks ahead.

I posted some tips from a few years ago HERE and I am reposting a few of them here, with some added ideas as well.

1. Relaxing Music

We aren't allowed to play music during the test, so I assume you aren't either, but I love having quiet music playing as the kids are coming into the room and getting themselves situated. It's bound to be a time full of nervous energy, so with calming music in the background you can begin to get them relaxed before the long test time ahead. Finds some great artists and stations HERE and HERE.

2. Brain Breaks

We are allowed to take one, 3-minute break during each test, and I plan on taking advantage! I do recommend having some Brain Breaks on hand before the test begins (and then hopefully one in the middle, if it's allowed), but be very selective as to which one(s) you choose. Calming, stretching, massaging breaks will be best and allow kids to get some wiggles out, but in a smooth, centered way. Our tests are all computer-based, so I want them to relax their eyes, stretch out their bodies, and really be able to settle in nicely for the duration of the test. After the tests are complete, though, a dance party is definitely in order ;) Find hundreds of Brain Break ideas HERE.

3. Door Signage

Our class is next to the bathroom, so I want to make sure that everyone knows it needs to be completely quiet when they are in our hallway. I hang this sign on our doorway during each test and then keep it handy for other class assessments we have throughout the year. It's a freebie on Google Docs HERE if you'd like to pick it up for your door.

4. Non-Food Encouragement

I have done food as treats before, but wanted to mix it up a bit to discourage sugar highs at 10am. So, I used a common fun find from the dollar store, glow bracelets, and attached these freebie tags (on Google Docs HERE in two versions: test and PARCC) using double-sided tape. If you have a 2" round punch from my Brain Breaks, use it on these circles! It is a great way to cheer them on, but keeps the energy manageable and the day flowing as normal. Which brings me to....

5. Routines

So technically, this isn't a new thing to do, but I wanted to stress the importance of getting back to the normal routine and structure of the day once the tests are done. We test for the first 60-90 minutes each morning, but that leaves a whole bunch of time in the day where we can do and accomplish a lot of fun things! We're knee-deep in our Animal Research Reports (read more about these through the years HERE), the kids have never been more independent in reading and Daily 5, and we still do have about two months of school left. So, when the tests are done for the day, we immediately turn our attention back to the goodness of school. I have found that this keeps me sane, as well as my students. It also releases a lot of anxiety or worry around the test when it doesn't dominate our thinking for the day. Your testing may be structured differently, but I encourage you to get back to the wonderful routines and systems you have worked so hard to develop with your students as soon as you can!

Best of luck to your students and you during this testing time!


  1. Great ideas! We also stand like superman for two minutes before we start- research shows it makes people more confident and successful!

    Thanks for the great reminders and good luck during testing!

    Good luck with testing!

    Rachel @ The Cozy Learning Cottage

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