Spring in Kentucky brings us revived energy. Kids are outdoors, playing in the yards, sidewalks and on playgrounds again. The days are brighter, longer, and more colorful. Growth abounds. And the promise of the long, lazy, hazy days of summer are on the minds of every student who walks into the doors of their school. Oh, they cannot WAIT until summer. If teachers don’t HEAR those words ump-teen times a day, they certainly FEEL and SEE it.
The reality of spring in public schools is that May is also “testing season.” Our kids will be taking tests. Some are state-mandated like K-PREP for students from third to eleventh grade and EOC’s (End of Course Assessments) for high school students in specific subject areas. Other tests are district-mandated assessments of yearly growth like MAP (Measures of Academic Progress). And even other tests are the plain old end-of-unit tests and “FINALS.”
Different forms of these types of tests have been a reality in schools for decades. How many of us remember our own teacher repeating, “A BALOO is a bear,” as she went through the scripted text when we were “tested” in school? The issue that faces myself and many other parents during this “season of testing” is how can I best support my child so that he is prepared for the tests, yet won’t be STRESSED for the tests?
An article found on Scholastic.com’s Parent website, Standardized Tests | Prepare And Interpret Results: What you should know about standardized tests before your child sharpens his #2 pencil, provides some tips I find particularly helpful:
Optimize brain power.
Teachers say the students who struggle the most on testing days are the ones who didn’t have enough sleep or a good breakfast the day of the test. Make sure she has every tool she needs — pencils, an eraser, paper, a calculator, etc. laid out the night before.
Relax and remain positive.
The best test-takers are confident, committed, and at ease. Even if you are nervous about her performance, be wary of transferring that concern to your child. You never know, some kids actually enjoy tests! If she is likely to get nervous, practice a few relaxation techniques, such as counting from one to ten or taking deep breaths, which can help her relieve tension during the test.
Know what to expect.
Most teachers will send home information about the test schedule and class preparation plans well before the test date. However, if you don’t hear from your child’s teacher you should contact her and find out:
- What is the name of the test and what will it measure?
- What’s the format? (multiple choice, essay, short answer, etc.)
- How will the class prepare in school?
- How is it scored? Will students be penalized for incorrect answers or should they guess randomly when stumped on a question?
- When will you receive the results?
- What are the test’s implications? Will it affect your child, school, or both?
- Are there any specific ways you can help your child prepare?
While there are many other ways parents can help their children throughout the year, these will be particularly helpful in keeping a positive, pro-active, and supportive attitude with your child during this particular “season of testing.”