The Test Preparation phase is where schools synthesize the knowledge and practices gained through use of a DDIS into improved student performance. In our sample schools, this phase focused on taking necessary measures to help students achieve on state and district examinations.
It is notable that in these schools Test Preparation wasn't only about instruction, and was definitely not synonymous with "teaching to the test." Rather Test Preparation generally involved preparing students for testing by helping them to develop both cognitive strategies and other proven effective habits (e.g. good nutrition) that help students improve their performance in testing situations.
Results from this phase feed back into the process of data driven instructional leadership as information from test scores is an essential part of Data Acquisition.
One approach to Test Preparation utilized by some of our sample schools was working with environmental design to create a positive environment for students during testing.
This environment includes not only what is done on the day of testing, but also events leading up to the testing. Strategies we observed included grouping students, organizing the testing environment, proctoring, and creating an exciting and healthy atmosphere for the tests.
At one school different groupings were utilized for improving the atmosphere during the test process. For example, while this school would use whole class settings for some groups, special education students or English language learners might be placed in smaller groups with a specialist or educator.
To accomplish this school leadership ensured that during the testing period these specialists were clearer of other responsibilities making them available to help with testing. This flexibility also allows for special legally permissible dispensations for certain students like reading sections of the test aloud.