When people ask me what our district is doing to prepare for the state tests, I say teach the district adopted curriculum aligned to the standards, utilize research-based instructional strategies, administer frequent formative assessments to make teaching decisions, and so on. Nothing out of the ordinary. Things we do as good educators all year long.
It is not necessary to stop instruction to prep for the state tests. However, there are somethings you should do to help you kids get ready. For example - Heather Wolpert-Gawron a teacher published in Teacher Magazine says, "Teach them How to Speak Test
The language used in tests is unlike any other human language or dialect. I’ve been using these special test terms in my own teaching, but it's also important to help students break down the meaning of the more nebulous words that we as educators often take for granted as common knowledge. The word "analyze," for instance, is not easily defined. It's vague and, frankly, a term that many teachers couldn't explain without an occasional "um, it’s like the…" as a lead-in. Students need to know exactly what to do when they see the verb "analyze."
Make a list of the most common words associated with test instructions and discuss what they're directing the test-taker to do. Remember that just telling students to "Read the directions" is not enough if they can't understand the directions."
Besides the obvious, like teaching to the standards and curriculum, what do you do to help prepare students for standardized tests?