How to Incorporate Games into Standardized Test Prep

It’s no secret that standardized testing is deeply integrated into the modern education system.

According to a 2015 study by the Council of the Great City Schools1, the average U.S. student had taken 112 standardized tests before graduating from high school.

While standardized tests can provide valuable data about student achievement and instruction, they can also cause a significant amount of stress for both students and teachers as they prepare each year.

How can teachers make standardized test prep more engaging and effective for students? One particular solution lies in gaming.

The notion of game playing has implications beyond just entertainment and leisure. Studies2 have shown that gaming can improve a wide range of cognitive skills, from memory and perception to spatial navigation and reasoning. More importantly, games can be incorporated into a rewards-based learning curriculum as a means to prepare students for high-stakes testing.

Let’s examine the ways in which games can help make standardized test prep more meaningful and engaging.

Get Creative in the Classroom

Whether you transform your classroom into a quiz show or reward students with games, there are plenty of ways to bring games into the mix when it comes to test prep.

While turning your classroom into Who Wants to Be a Millionaire sounds exciting, it can also be a heavy lift up front. An effective, simple way to prepare students for standardized testing is through rewards-based learning.

Leverage Rewards-Based Learning Tools for Standardized Test Prep

Rewards-based learning tools are rooted in reinforcement theory, motivating students with rewards and prizes to promote desired behavior. Tools like Fuel Education’s Stride, for example, encourage students to master concepts in exchange for coins. This adaptive learning platform awards students with coins for correctly answered questions. Students can collect or use those coins to unlock 60-second “brain break” games. The more questions they answer correctly, the more coins they receive.

As students work through learning concepts in math, reading, language arts, and science, on the back end, the platform’s adaptive engine is collecting real-time data on student progress and guides each student to practice where he or she needs it most. On-grade level and direct skills assignments, as well as custom teacher-created quizzes, can help target students’ time to practice skills the teacher knows are important to review in advance of testing. 

Stride’s wide variety of prompts and formats also expose students to different types of technology-enhanced questions that could potentially appear on standardized tests. Additionally, the platform lets instructors create and automatically grade custom quizzes on the content of their choice, which provides even more data on where students need intervention.

Accessible 24/7 from smartphones, tablets, and computers, Stride’s adaptive, rewards-based learning model helps students prepare anytime, anywhere.

Discover how Stride helped raise test scores for participating students in Alabama.

Stride™ Case Study

During the 2014–2015 and 2015–2016 school years, The Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS) implemented Stride in schools across Alabama. In 2017, the Auburn Center for Evaluation conducted an analysis3 of ACT® Aspire® reading and math test scores from 2015 and 2016 to evaluate the extent to which Stride contributed to differences in year-end Alabama state accountability assessments. The analysis revealed the following findings:

  • Overall, students using Stride improved math benchmark pass rates by 15% compared to their demographically matched peers who improved pass rates by 8%.
  • Stride students improved reading benchmarks by 10%, whereas their matched peers showed no statistically significant change.
  • Stride students in Special Education improved reading benchmark pass rates by 57% compared to an improvement of 33% by their matched peers.
  • Economically disadvantaged students using Stride improved by 23% on math pass rates compared to their matched peers who showed no statistically significant change.

Stride™ by Fuel Education

Stride is a multi-platform, interactive learning tool designed for grades pre-K through 8. The rewards-based model motivates students towards mastery and gives teachers the data they need to help students prepare for standardized testing.

Interested in learning more about Stride? Request a demo today.

1Layton, L. Study says standardized testing is overwhelming nation’s public schools. Washington Post. October 2015.

2Nauert, R. Video Games Can Help Boost Cognitive Memory and Social Skills, Psych Central, August 2018.

3Henry, D. and Carpenter, J.  Impact of the Stride™ Supplemental Program on ACT® Aspire® Test Scores in Alabama, Auburn Center for Evaluation, 2017.

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