I know a lot of people have differing views on testing anchors. I believe there is a lot to be said for them. I was actually surprised when I read a book recently that was very anti-anchors, if you will. Do I teach to the test? No. Do I teach test taking strategies? Absolutely. I have to. I have nine and ten year old students being asked to take a very tricky test. My students need strategies to help them think about what they are reading and what the question is asking.
I have found that my students can use reading strategies beautifully, but they don't relate those strategies when taking practice tests. Check for understanding is a reading strategy we have used since the first day of school. They practice it when reading with partners, and by writing down what they read on sticky notes. When I told them to check for understanding in the margins of their test, it was like a lightbulb went off in their heads... Oh yeah, that makes sense! This was the same when I told them to back up and reread when they don't know an answer to the question. You would think that is common sense, but it really is not. When they can't remember what they read in a chapter book, they use that strategy, but again, when it comes to "The Test," they need to be taught and reminded of these things.
I created a "Remember your Testing Anchors" checklist that I am going to laminate and tape to each student's desk. Since it doesn't have any actual content, I believe it is OK for the students to have on their desk while taking their achievement test. Of course, I will double check with my principal, just to be sure!
If you want your own copy of the testing anchors you can download it here!