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The Testing Period

In many schools, the focus for planning the test is on administration. There are rules and regulations, ethical concerns, materials acquisition and distribution concerns, test coverage concerns, and behavior management concerns. These are all legitimate concerns. If we ignore any of them, we can cause many students to score below their potential. It is also possible, however, that we can do all of these things well and still allow students to underperform.

Rhythm of the Learner Year Timeline

The Testing Period is not just the time when the test is administered to all students. It is the time when we build an optimum assessment environment, prepare the students for that environment, administer the test, and assess the success of our environment, enabling students to perform their potential.


The Testing Period begins two to three weeks before the test starts and lasts through the week following the test administration.


The goal of the Testing Period is to create an optimum assessment environment in which all students can and will demonstrate their potential as learner and performer.

Priorities for the Formative Period

Academic Leaders

  • Market a vision for optimum test environment to staff and students and provide opportunities for practice and scrimmage experiences.
  • Practice revised test day schedules, rituals and routines, and student placements.
  • Eliminate all extraneous distractions.
  • Develop and market plans for predictable disruptions and for unexpected distractions and disruptions – plans B and C.
  • Visibly support teachers and students in test prep and testing best effort activities.
  • Visit all classrooms to support teachers and students and to identify teachers and students who are out of sync with the testing plan.
  • If problems are identified, meet daily with leadership team to form more plans B and C.
  • With leadership team, develop an end of year (EOY) plan.
  • Interact with students individually to assess commitment and motivation and celebrate their effort and successes.
  • Check all teachers plans for debriefing and transition to EOY.
  • Complete evaluations of the Opening Period, Formative Period, and Calibrating Period.

School Teachers

  • Plan test-taking rituals, routines, and schedules to ensure student mastery before the actual testing begins.
  • Eliminate all extraneous distractions.
  • Review effective test-taking strategies.
  • Assess student mastery of test format and provide last-minute assistance.
  • Maintain a focus on formative activities after the daily test is completed.
  • Provide work to activate long-term memory.
  • Plan to maintain learning momentum in the weeks before and after the test.
  • Maintain an optimum classroom environment before, during, and after the test.

Interested in Reading the Book?

This book is the aggregation of the research and fieldwork that has gone into our approach to working with struggling schools as well as adding value to blue ribbon schools. We tried to write it in a step-by-step, show your math, chunked out format so that if the leadership team were never able to attend an Ed Directions PD, they could still plan and monitor their school year with the student-focused understanding of the Rhythm of the Learner Year in mind.