Backward Planning for the State Test

Author: Simone Vega, M.Ed

In the state of California, our yearly state testing is called the CAASPP. Before my students take the CAASPP, I want to make sure they are as prepared and confident as they can be, so I backward plan my questioning strategies. I try and mimic the types of questions asked on the test in my own classroom so that my students become familiar and comfortable with the testing language. When my students find the questions on the CAASPP assessment to be similar to the verbiage with questions I have asked throughout the school year, then the familiarity should give them a boost of confidence during the real deal.

To do this, I pull up the Sample Question Viewing System from the Smarter Balanced website. I browse by item type as they relate to the standards or concepts I am currently teaching. From there, I study the testing language; the specific vocabulary, question structure, and answer choices. I then align my questions to be consistent with the claim covered under the IAB. Check out this link to see some sample questions.

Here’s an Example

A question might be “What are the inconsistencies with these problems?” 

This tells me that I should use the word inconsistencies when teaching so my students become familiar with that word. Otherwise, I feel that this question would throw them off, as many of my students probably don’t understand what an ‘inconsistency’ is.

This is just one way I backward plan in order to prepare my students for the state test. Of course, it’s ideal if you can apply this in your practice from the beginning of the year, but of course that can be challenging with everything else we need to teach. However, even if it’s just something you do in the weeks leading up to the test, it can still be helpful for your students.

If you’d like to try this and you need any help accessing the sample questions, feel free to tag me in the Markers and Minions Teacher Community Facebook group and I can walk you through it!

In the meantime, how do you backward plan your questions to support state testing? Let us know in the comments!

Hi! I’m Toluca from Markers and Minions, where I help teachers feel more effective and confident with high-quality resources and an awesome teacher community!

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