14 Power Strategies to Boost Reading & Writing Achievement on Standardized Tests

Strategies to embed reading and writing instruction into your curriculum

In this era of high-stakes testing, it's never been more important for students to enter into standardized assessments with essential skills and personal confidence. Throughout this course built from a two-day workshop, teachers will learn explicit literacy strategies students need in order to be successful on state and national assessments. (Specific references will be made to the new SAT, ACT, and AP exams, Indiana assessment, PARCC, & Smarter Balanced assessments.)


Three Reasons to Enroll

1. High-stakes testing affects everyone.

How students perform on standardized reading and writing tests has far-reaching implications for students, teachers, and schools. Insights into the requirements for test success are needed now more than ever before.

2. Success on standardized tests is only part of the goal.

With mastery of academic standards as the ultimate goal, targeted and intentional preparation for the state assessment helps students improve as readers and writers for the test and beyond.

3. Success on the test require explicit instruction.

Kristina Smekens will share strategies to embed rigorous reading and writing instruction into your yearlong curriculum so that students are equipped with the most essential literacy skills.

When you complete the course, you'll be able to...

  • Identify how today's assessments are different from previous tests.
  • Execute lessons to target Kristina's 14 Power Strategies for succeeding on standardized assessments.
  • Create a sequence of text-dependent questions that keep students rooted in the text and follow the same progression standardized assessments utilize.
  • Tweak your writing-about-reading tasks to mirror the constructed responses on standardized assessments.
  • Hone students' habits for citing specific and relevant evidence.
  • Prioritize the literacy skills that require explicit instruction.

Top questions teachers ask about preparing for standardized assessments

  • What's different about the testing expectations under the new standards than those assessments administered previously?
  • How can I intentionally prepare students for the state assessment without simply "teaching to the test"?
  • How should I prioritize my yearlong planning so that students are adequately prepared for the state assessment?
  • Beyond the English/language arts curriculum, what can be done in the content areas to cultivate critical reading and writing skills?
  • How can I differentiate my instruction to help struggling readers pass the test?
  • For my high-ability students, what unique instruction do they need in order to exceed expectations on state assessments?

Kristina provides the answers to these questions and many more!


Your Instructor

Kristina Smekens
Kristina Smekens

A full-time literacy consultant, Kristina has built a reputation for using enthusiasm, humor, and common sense to equip K-12 educators with practical, demystifying strategies for teaching reading and writing.

As president and lead consultant for Smekens Education, Kristina is constantly developing new strategies to help teachers meet the demands of today’s College and Career-Ready Standards. She shares those strategies with teachers across the United States and beyond through on-site school trainings, regional seminars, and an always-growing pool of print, digital, and video resources.

Kristina has a gift for making the complex seem simple— for showing teachers how to meet the needs of readers and writers by bridging the gap between education research and classroom-tested strategies that work. Well known for offering innovative ideas, Kristina has created more than 50 “Smekens Originals,” a compilation of books, guides, and classroom tools designed to help teachers implement best-practice literacy strategies. Among the most popular of these resources are her best-selling books, Launching the Writer’s Workshop: Grades K-2, and Launching the Writer’s Workshop: Grades 3-12.

You are welcome to contact Kristina directly: kristina@smekenseducation.com.



Contact Smekens Education toll free:

(888) 376-0448

What teachers say about this course

“I’m ready to take several of the techniques and ideas straight into my room!” Hannah Dodson, Grade 10, English Department, Center Grove High School, Greenwood, IN

“I love that these tools don’t just teach to the test—they are just good practice, but they have big pay-offs.” Melissa Warner, Grades 9-12, Center Grove High School, Greenwood, IN

“Your strategies will help me teach smarter, not harder.” Nancy Bontreger , Grades 3 & 4 ESL, Concord West Side Elementary School, Elkhart, IN

“I’ll be able to pump up our K-4 curriculum to enhance inferring.” Kristen Hankins, Instructional Coach, Fieler Elementary School, Merrillville, IN

“Fantastic new information, strategies, analogies, and easy-to-remember acronyms! I’m eager to incorporate this into my plans!” Kaitlin Kenny, Grade 8 Literature & 3-8 Technology, Saint James School, Arlington Heights, IL

“I came specifically to share with other teachers what I learned. I’m going back loaded with specific strategies for everyone.” Carol McBride, Grades 9-12 Language, Woodlawn High School, Woodlawn, IL

“The content was incredibly helpful! Many strategies were simple and easy but precise with a clear target in mind. I will be a better educator because of this training!” Meagan Joyner, Secondary English Teacher ELL, Henderson County High School, Henderson, KY

“The workshop was amazing! Kristina provides no-prep activities to take into the classroom and start providing engaging reading/writing instruction immediately.” Kathy Ernst, Grade 3, Peotone Elementary School, Peotone, IL


Class Curriculum

  Introduction to the course
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  Strategy #6 Discern Evidence versus Details
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  Strategy #9 Recognize New Information within Text Features
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  Strategy #12 Respond to a Narrative-Writing Task
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  Strategy #13 Respond to a Literary-Analysis Task & Strategy #14 Respond to a Research-Writing Task
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  Conclusion - Wrap-Up
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Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course can begin at any time.
How long do I have access to the course?
After enrollment, students have access to this course for 60 days. You determine how fast or slow you want to progress through the course during this time.
Can I share my course with colleagues?
Sorry, course sharing is not allowed. Our Terms of Use specify that one registration fee allows access for just one person. However, we are happy to offer group discounts. Give us a call at (888) 376-0448 to get the details.
Can I get continuing education credits?
Most likely! With prior approval from your school district, participants may receive credit for up to 10 hours of professional development for this two-course combo. A Certificate of Completion is provided to participants when they complete all aspects of the course.
Can I earn graduate credit?
Thanks to a partnership with the Midwest Teachers Institute, educators who enroll in this course are eligible to earn three hours of nationally-accredited graduate credit for just $375. These are non-degree credits which are designed for professional certification renewals and salary step increases. Contact Brady Smekens, Director of Professional Development, for details, (888) 376-0448.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are not satisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 10 days, and we will give you a full refund.
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