High-stakes standardized testing is not going away. With the newly redesigned SAT® and the fact that many states’ are focusing on both the ACT® and SAT® as a part of high school graduation requirements, high-stakes exams are more important than ever. However, do not panic; your vocabulary instruction goes a long way in ensuring success for your students on these and all standardized tests.
Vocabulary Instruction Prepares for Testing, and for Future Life
Why is vocabulary instruction critical for test prep, rather than specific “teach to the test” methods? Because the skills you teach your students with vocabulary also help them to think critically about what they're reading and writing. It also gives them the confidence to, not only tackle the tests, but also all future reading and writing. Therefore, you are preparing them for tests, and for success in their later careers!
Why Vocabulary Instruction is Crucial for Success on High-Stakes Exams
The new SAT and other high-stakes tests ask students to determine the meaning of an unknown word based on its use in a passage. The more students study words and how context clues support word meaning, the more comfortable they will feel identifying the meaning of unfamiliar words in a passage.
Students are also asked to support their answers with evidence from the passage. Again, as students study vocabulary, they understand how context clues support a word’s meaning, just as they recognize how key ideas from a passage support a specific answer.
Standardized test reading passages have complex vocabulary. The more the students understand the reading passage, the better they will do on the test.
Students are asked to write an essay that analyzes a passage. The more eloquent they sound in their response through the use of vocabulary and supportive evidence, the higher they will score.
Ultimately, students can often be intimidated by high-stakes tests. By helping students feel comfortable with complex vocabulary and using context clues, students gain confidence that they can understand complicated words and ideas. This confidence is a key component to success on high-stakes testing and, more importantly, in life!
I love these reasons, and I suggest that you print out this handout for yourself to remind yourself why the time you spend on vocabulary instruction is worth it. I also suggest you print out the student-friendly version of this list, so students can be reminded why they should spend time learning new words.
Thanks to these tip sheets, you can remember that yes, vocabulary instruction has many school, and lifelong, benefits. Download now!