Using NoRedInk to Prep Students for High-Stakes ELA Testing

Students at desks taking a standardized ELA test

NoRedInk provides English teachers with a wide range of tools that promote student growth and prepare students for success on high-stakes ELA tests.

For most English teachers, preparing students for high-stakes testing is far from a highlight of the job. ELA test prep is fraught with stress and uncertainty, and has only become more challenging as a result of disruptions to learning and testing over the last two years.

Fortunately, when teachers have access to standards- and test-aligned diagnostic assessments, skills exercises, writing activities, and progress reporting—as well as a clear plan for using them strategically—test prep becomes significantly more straightforward. To that point, here are several ways teachers can use NoRedInk’s varied learning resources to support student success both on standardized tests and in ELA courses more broadly:

1. Identify individual student needs

Understanding where each student is prior to a cycle of instruction, practice, and feedback is a key preliminary step in the ELA test prep process. While direct interaction with students gives you a general idea of your class’s test readiness, an ELA diagnostic test can help you zero in on individual student strengths and areas for improvement.

NoRedInk Planning Diagnostics are aligned with the ACT® and SAT®, as well as with Common Core standards and each state’s standards. These diagnostics reveal student proficiency across multiple topics at the start of a year or semester, enabling you to map out lessons that are closely tailored to your class. Once you’ve crafted an action plan, assigning a NoRedInk Unit Diagnostic will give you data on student understanding of specific skills, providing critical insight into test readiness and broader learning needs.

2. Reinforce instruction with mastery-based practice

One of the most effective ways to reinforce your ELA test prep-oriented instruction is to assign authentic exercises that promote mastery of writing and grammar skills commonly evaluated by the multiple-choice sections of tests.

NoRedInk Practice exercises are aligned with state and national tests and can be assigned directly from a Diagnostic’s results page, minimizing the legwork required to create targeted, high-impact activities based on student needs. Consider using these exercises to model ELA test-taking strategies before asking students to complete them independently as ELA test practice.

3. Support the development of writing proficiency

In many cases, ELA testing involves more than multiple-choice questions. As such, it’s important to focus on helping students develop into strong writers capable of performing well on the essay sections of tests.

NoRedInk’s Just for Fun and Skill-Building Quick Writes are low-stakes, lightweight activities that let students work on their writing stamina and apply the skills they’ve acquired through Practice exercises. NoRedInk also includes scaffolded essays that guide students step by step through the writing cycle, providing them with critical support as they get comfortable with long-form writing. As student proficiency increases, you can use NoRedInk’s unscaffolded essays to mirror the test-taking experience. Both these essay types give students opportunities to respond to real ELA test questions that have been released by state and national organizations.

4. Evaluate student growth

Building student writing and grammar skills takes time and sustained effort. To track student progress toward test readiness over the course of an entire school year, you need access to clear, digestible data on how individual students are improving their grasp of key skills.

NoRedInk’s data dashboards enable you to view student progress toward mastery of specific skills evaluated by state and national tests. For more granular insight into where students are improving and where they need additional practice, you can bookend a cycle of instruction, practice, and feedback with a Unit Diagnostic and a NoRedInk Growth Quiz.

Create differentiated learning experiences with NoRedInk

Ultimately, delivering differentiated support to students of all skill levels and backgrounds throughout the school year minimizes the need for stressful last-minute test prep. From assigning Practice exercises based on student performance data to adjusting which parts of an essay students must complete, NoRedInk provides you with a variety of ways to create unique learning experiences for each student.

Sign up for free today to access an array of flexible resources for ELA test practice!

Thomas collaborates with colleagues from across NoRedInk to craft stories that illustrate how NoRedInk ​​builds stronger writers. He holds a BA in Religious Studies from Occidental College.