Sub Tips

Subbing during State Standardized Testing

Learn the basics of helping classrooms during end-of-year state testing.
hand holding a pencil to mark answers on a test answer sheet

State Testing Basics

During the last quarter of the school year (March-May), schools set aside time for end-of-year testing required by their state. The grades and subject areas that are tested can differ by state, but if you are substituting at a school during a testing day, it is important to know what to expect!

  • Testing is usually spread across several days or weeks, with one block of time set apart for testing each scheduled day.

  • No more scantrons! Most state tests are administered through computers on a dedicated website or software application. Students need login information, which often comes in the form of a "testing ticket" that they receive for the testing session. Paper-based tests are typically only used for special circumstances or for students needing specific accommodations.

  • Generally, substitutes are not asked to administer state testing, but you may be supporting a classroom where students are testing. You may be asked to read directions, pass out materials, circulate the room, escort students leaving the classroom, or relieve teachers briefly for breaks.

  • School staff receive special, required training to be able to administer state testing, and in some states, are required to sign documentation that training has been completed and that they agree to all test administration requirements established by the state. If you are a long-term substitute and are expected to administer state testing, you will need to participate in these trainings.

What Do I Need to Know?

Even though most substitutes aren't responsible for administering state testing, it is good to understand the following 3 important aspects so that you are prepared if you are subbing on a scheduled test day.

1) Test Security

To protect the integrity of state tests, school personnel must take the utmost care with how any testing materials are accessed, stored, and destroyed. Since most tests are now computer-based, this means following procedures to manage when and how students log in to tests, pause and resume tests, and finish tests.

Both students and school personnel are to refrain from discussing specific test items, and no photographs, screenshots, or notes should be taken about the content of the test. Some tests do allow students to take notes or work out math problems on scratch paper; school personnel should follow set procedures to collect and store or dispose of those materials at the end of each test session.

Older students are typically given brief, escorted breaks if they use the restroom during a testing session to minimize the risk of using a personal device to search for answers on a topic. Students should have all personal devices kept away throughout the testing session, including smart watches.

If there are any students using a paper-based test, those materials should be secure at all times, which means that they are returned to a testing coordinator at the school or stored in a locked location between testing sessions.

2) Testing Ethics

It is important to understand the special set of ethics that surround state standardized testing in schools. School personnel are expected to hold themselves to the highest standards, keeping themselves from any situation or conversation that can influence students' performance during testing. Because these tests impact teacher and school evaluations, the main concerns are about giving unethical hints, help, or feedback to students during a test or between test sessions.

Below are a few common examples of unethical behavior, excerpted from Utah's Testing Ethics Policy:

  • Changing, altering, or amending any student’s online or paper response answer
  • Re-wording or clarifying questions, or using inflections or gestures to help students answer test questions
  • Allowing students to use unauthorized resources during testing (e.g. dictionaries, math formulas, etc.)
  • Displaying materials on walls or other high visibility surfaces that may provide answers (e.g. posters, word walls, formula charts)
  • Allowing parents to assist with the proctoring of a test their child is taking
  • Reviewing a student’s response and instructing the student to, or suggesting that the student should, rethink their answers
  • Explicitly or implicitly encouraging parents to exclude their students from participating in a statewide assessment

Unless a student has a special accommodation confirmed by school personnel, staff should not help read, rephrase, or explain a test question or item. When a student says, "I don't understand what it's asking," "I don't understand the question," or "What does _____ mean?" the appropriate response is something like, "I'm not allowed to explain since this is a test, but keep thinking about it and do your best." You might feel bad having to refuse help, but it is necessary to keep an ethical testing environment.

For more details about testing ethics, you can refer to your state's policies and training materials:

ARIZONA Staff Test Security and Ethics Agreement

FLORIDA Test Administration and Security Agreement

FLORIDA Test Administrator Prohibited Activities Agreement

NEVADA Test Security Procedures (see especially pgs. 8-10)

NEW YORK Tips for Ethical Testing

TEXAS Oath of Test Security and Confidentiality

UTAH Standard Test Administration and Testing Ethics Policy

UTAH Standard Test Administration and Testing Ethics Training

3) Active Monitoring

A third important aspect to understand during state testing is the need for active monitoring of students during testing sessions. Because testing sessions are long blocks of time, it is important to keep a continuous, visible presence around the room for many reasons:

  • to prevent conversations or other distractions
  • to get to students quickly when they need your attention
  • to monitor for sleeping or inattention to the test
  • to monitor for cheating or test security violations

Specific State Tests

Below, you can get a general idea of the specific tests that are used in your state.

Jump to: Arizona | Florida | Nevada | New York | Texas | Utah


Test: Arizona's Academic Standards Assessment (AASA)

Grades: 3rd-8th

Subjects: Language Arts & Mathematics

Test: Arizona's Science Test (AzSCI)

Grades: 5th, 8th, & 11th

Test: ACT Aspire / ACT

Grades: 9th & 11th

Subjects: English, Math, Science, & Writing

* The Aspire is a preparatory assessment given to 9th graders; by 11th grade, students take the regular ACT test.


Test: Florida Assessment of Student Thinking (FAST)

Grades: Kindergarten-10th

Subjects: Language Arts Reading & Writing

Test: FAST Math

Grades: Kindergarten-8th

Test: Statewide Science Assessment

Grades: 5th & 8th

Test: End of Course Assessments

Grades: 9th-12th

Subjects: Math, Science, & Social Studies

* Exams are given at the end of specific required courses in the subjects noted above. Testing may be throughout the year as courses end by quarter or semester.


Test: MAP Growth Reading

Grades: Kingdergarten-3rd

Test: Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBAC)

Grades: 3rd-8th

Subjects: Language Arts & Mathematics

Test: Nevada Science Assessment

Grades: 5th & 8th-12th

Test: ACT Plus Writing

Grades: 11th

New York

Test: New York State English Language Arts, Math Tests

Grades: 3rd-8th

Test: New York State Science Test

Grades: 5th & 8th

Test: New York State High School Regents Exam

Grades: 9th-12th

* Unlike other state tests, Regents Exams take place in January, June, and August.


Test: State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR)

Grades: 3rd-8th

Subjects: Reading, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, & Social Studies

Test: STAAR End of Course Exams

Grades: 9th-12th

Subjects: Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, & Social Studies

*  Exams are given at the end of specific required courses in the subjects noted above. Testing may be throughout the year as courses end by quarter or semester.


Test: Readiness Improvement Success Empowerment (RISE)

Grades: 3rd-8th

Subjects: English Language Arts, Mathematics, & Science

* 3rd grade does not test in science.

Test: RISE Writing

Grades: 5th & 8th

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