Monday, March 25, 2013

Testing Coordinator Tips for School Counselors

As a school counselor, being test coordinator had to be my absolute least favorite responsibility.  I am VERY fortunate and THANKFUL that I no longer have that responsibility!  However, I know that there are many school counselors that take on this very demanding and at times very stressful role.  I've been in your shoes and have some tips that helped me to stay organized and prepared during statewide testing.

-Ask your school to purchase plastic bins (with tops) which makes it easier to pack class testing materials in.  I tried to pre-pack scrap paper, pencils, highlighters already in each bin well before testing (one less thing to do once the crunch starts).

Testing bin (with lid and label)

-Make labels:  I used labels for everything!  I used them to label the teacher/test administrator bins, to label student booklets & to label the bags with answer sheets.  I used both mailing labels and large packing labels.

-Keep track of student answer sheets, test booklet info, special codes.  I used spreadsheet to create this (when you print, use legal sized paper so it will fit on one page).  I copied/pasted most of the student info from our online student information management system.  As I sorted booklets, I wrote test info (like test booklet color, form letter/number) on the sheet.  I use this just in case something doesn't match later on in the testing madness.  The special codes (in NC it's their current performance level), I gave the printed sheet to the homeroom teacher prior to testing to fill out, which they returned back to me.  On the bubble day with the teachers, I handed out these completed sheets, which saved tons of time for the teachers, they already had the info completed.  If you'd like a copy of this spreadsheet (which you can change to your liking), click here.

Student info spreadsheet (don't forget to print on legal sized paper_)

-Recruit parent or community volunteers to proctor early.  I know parents hated to see me coming, during testing time (they knew what I was going to ask)!  I even stood in the carpool line to worked!  Another suggestion that I would give now is to use Google Docs to create an online sign up.  Create a spreadsheet with test dates, times, etc on it where parent volunteers can sign up.  Send your sign up link to teachers to forward to their class list and if your school's PTA has a yahoo or gmail group, by all means use that too.  Having too many volunteers is a good thing!

Example of volunteer sign up (this is from JYJ Gives back)

-Offer an incentive to get students to come to school on-time each day of testing.  I offered ice cream to every student that had "perfect attendance" during testing (my principal paid for it).  This worked, during the 3 years that I did testing, I had fewer than 10 students absent from testing (total) which means less make-ups to have to deal with.

-Have snacks for teachers & proctors:  testing can be a long and draining ordeal for staff too.  I had water and snack items for teachers to pick up once they turned in their testing materials each day.  Last year I shared how we had staff pick me ups during state testing (stay tuned, I'll have more to share closer to our testing dates in May).

-Borrow an apron, I never seemed to have enough pocket room to carry lists, pencils, pens, etc. so wearing an apron was a must.  I could carry tons of stuff with me in the pockets as I moved around the building hands free.  People always knew that I was in "testing mode" they'd said "oh, she's got on that apron".  Ok, the apron thing may just be a me thing, I like aprons!

What testing tips work for you?

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  1. Nice post! It's so funny how different each state is. Parent and others are not allowed in the testing environment at all for Colorado.

    1. Wow, you're so right each state is different! I find it interesting to hear how testing's done in various states.

  2. Timely information! I have forwarded this on to our new Guidance Counselor.

    1. Teri, I know what a trying task being in charge of testing can be so that's why I share the wealth!

  3. I love, LOVE your blog posts! Thank you for sharing so many awesome ideas! We SHOULD share! I appreciate you! :)