Give Students a Voice on Standardized Testing

No one likes standardized testing.  Students have to suffer through testing.  They often suffer from the pressure of needing to perform, anxiety over how much or little they know, and the stress of getting scores back.  In addition, they have to deal with the disrupted routine, the tedious testing procedure, and increasingly issues with computer-related testing.

It can be hard, as a teacher, to deal with the overflow of student emotions.  Some teachers may try to let students vent, a bit.  Others try to keep their classroom positive and free from standardized testing gripes.

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One strategy that can be useful is harnessing those complaints in a real-world writing activity.  Life includes things to complain about.  Being able to express those complaints well is an incredibly useful life skill.

Writing a Complain Letter about Standardized Testing is a way to practice articulating one’s complaints.  Plus practice writing with the basic business letter format– still useful even in this digital era.  It can also make a lighter assignment for any filler days before or after testing.

One fun thing to do with this activity– if permissible in your classroom– is to let students share how they really feel and then discuss how to say it professionally and politely.  I’ve even let my students swear in this context, which is fun for venting and then leads nicely into how it can be better said.

Along with writing the letter, students can discuss the purpose of testing, whether the current testing meets those goals, or even how to better accomplish it.

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* Be aware of your school’s climate or student needs before assigning.  It’s quite possible that not all environments would be appropriate for this activity.

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