Springtime. Blooming flowers, green leaves, rain showers, warmer temperatures (hopefully), and…standardized state testing. Oy.
In Texas, we have two major testing weeks…one in March/April and another in May. Our first round of state testing begins tomorrow (April 10) and will include 4th/5th grade as well as middle and high school students. Then in May, everyone in grades 3 and up will test.
Most school based SLPs do not have to administer state tests (though I know a few who do), but testing weeks definitely still impact us. At several of my schools, the speech therapy room is used for small group or individual test administration, so I lose my therapy space for several days. Any schedule I have been working from goes out the window due to students testing or rearranging of PE times, etc. Testing weeks are not easy for anyone, including the SLP.
But have no fear! I am here to share some testing week survival tips. Just a few things that I have found make my week(s) a little easier to deal with.
1. BE FLEXIBLE – This may be easier said than done. You may show up on Tuesday with a plan, and then show up and find out your plan needs to be scrapped due to a sudden schedule adjustment. Just roll with it and expect that last minute changes will occur. You may need to be flexible with everything from your location to how you group your students. Just roll with it and do your best.
2. GET CREATIVE – One of the biggest challenges I face during testing week is not having a therapy room to see my younger students. To this I say, ‘No problem!” I use this opportunity to get creative with where we have speech therapy. If the weather is nice, we might go outside. Can’t go outside? Try the gym or cafeteria, or another empty room. Walking the halls is probably not allowed when testing is going on, but you might be able to find another space and make it an adventure! You could also try pushing in to your students’ classrooms for the day.
3. CATCH UP ON PAPERWORK – Sometimes, testing schedules make it pretty impossible to get any kind of therapy done. This is when you can use your time to catch up on paperwork. Write IEPs, reports, or progress notes. Maybe you have Medicaid billing to catch up on…
4. GET SOME CEUs DONE – If you can’t see students, you could spend some of your day completing online CEUs. There are so many great courses offered online now and days. I am a member of SpeechPathology.com (affiliate link) and can pretty much complete CEU courses whenever I want to. I hear Medbridge is also fantastic. Or check out the ASHA website or Northern Speech Services and see what they have to offer.
5. CHECK IN WITH YOUR TESTING STUDENTS – When testing is finished for the day, I always check in with my students who had to test. There is usually enough time at the end of the day to get a session in. I do not force my students to come to speech after testing all day, but many times they want to come. I always check in, see how their day went, and ask them if they want to come to speech. I also make sure to have something extra special planned if they do make it to speech.
Testing weeks are usually not fun for anyone on campus. Stress levels are high and schedules are a mess. Just try to stay positive and know that it will all soon be over. Try to be flexible and get done what you can get done. Hang in there and just be thankful that this only happens once (or twice) a year.
I’d love to hear from you. Do you have to help administer state tests? How do you handle testing weeks? Leave a comment below.