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Ask Dr. Lynch: Integrating Test Prep into the Curriculum

EducationWorld Q&A columnist Dr. Matthew Lynch is a department chair and an associate professor of education at Langston University. He has researched topics related to educational policy, school leadership and education reform, particularly in the urban learning environment, and he is interested in developing collaborative enterprises that move the field of education forward. Visit his Web site for more information. Read all of his columns here, and be sure to submit your own question.

Dr. Matthew Lynch

This week, reader Michael M. asks:

Recently, I read an article which suggested that teachers should integrate standardized test preparation into the curriculum, but it did not offer any practical tips or strategies for doing so. Can you offer some suggestions?


Michael, professional development is an integral part of growing as an educator. I’m glad to see that you are being proactive in that regard. As to your question, experienced teachers will tell you that standardized test preparation should be part of the day-to-day curriculum, but you should not teach to the test. Below are some tips that will help you incorporate standardized test preparation as part of the regular day at school:

  • Before you can help your students prepare for the standardized test, understand the components of the test yourself. Check the specific areas that the test emphasizes. If you have not received the test guidelines from the school administration, you can get the guidelines as well as older versions of the test from your state department of education’s Web site. 
  • When you know the areas that are covered on the standardized tests and the amount of emphasis that each section receives, you can ensure that you cover those areas well in advance.
  • Do not spend time on a specific section just because it is a favorite of yours.
  • Use the older versions of the standardized tests and incorporate typical questions into unit tests and weekly quizzes. This ensures that the students get used to the format and do not dread these types of item when they appear on the standardized test.
  • A very typical aspect of the standardized test is the assessment of higher-order thinking skills. If you teach your students to think critically, you can be sure that they will be able to handle any question that appears on a standardized test. Raise the bar by creating class discussions that allow them to evaluate, analyze, synthesize and apply what they have learned.
  • Cross-curriculum connections help the students learn information more authentically. Use your language class to teach about historical personalities and more.

If you are able to integrate standardized test preparation into the daily curriculum, you can be sure that your students will be comfortable with, and feel confident about, these annual tests.


About Dr. Lynch

Dr. Matthew Lynch is a Chair and Associate Professor of Education at Langston University and a blogger for the Huffington Post. Dr. Lynch also is the author of the newly released book It’s Time for a Change: School Reform for the Next Decade and A Guide to Effective School Leadership Theories. Please visit his Web site for more information.

If you have a question for “Ask Dr. Lynch,” submit it here. Topics can be anything education-related, from classroom management to differentiated instruction.

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