signs in the hall?? When I assured them the test was over material that they learned in first and second grade, and they did indeed get snacks and a Quiet sign, there was a collective sigh of relief. At the same time I have fielded questions from parents, especially those whose oldest child is taking the test for the first time. Hopefully this post will help answer some of the questions I have been asked about how we are preparing in school and what you can do at home to help.
In our classroom, we have been digging into our normal third grade curriculum and not spending
inordinate amounts of time on test prep. I am confident our teachers in grades one and two have done an excellent job teaching expected content to your children that the assessments will cover. Most of the test preparation I have put in place was done so to reduce the anxiety a child may feel—fear of the
unknown. The students have now taken practice tests released by the state from
previous years. The general consensus by the children was, they aren’t that bad.
Following each practice test, we corrected it together and discussed why a particular answer was right and what made another incorrect. In addition, I have gone over test taking techniques that are useful not only for this test but for regular assessments they will have for years to come. In reading, this includes strategies such as reading the questions first, using a highlighter or underlining to verify “right there” answers or clues to questions which require inferencing. In math, I’ve expressed the importance of showing your work and drawing pictures or diagrams if needed. Whenever there are multiple choice questions, I always suggest students rule out the answers they know are not correct and head back to the text to look for or confirm answers. I have also told the students to always go over their answers from start to finish at least one more time after they finish the test (or any other assignment.) Finally, I have reminded students to simply take their time and dotheir best.
I’ve been asked several times what parents can do to help prepare their child at home. My answer is...the
same things you have been doing at home the past seven or eight
years! Support your child’s education by reading to them, with them and in front of
them. Check in on homework to make sure it is being completed with quality.
Showing an interest in your child’s schoolwork, having high and realistic expectations and taking pride in their successes helps bolster student achievement more than you can imagine.
When the actual test rolls around next week, there are a few minor things parents can do to help. First of all, make sure your child gets a good night's sleep. As you know, it is easier to stay focused when you are well-rested. (Next week you’ll notice that the homework load is diminished. I want to make sure students are not mired in homework so there are no excuses for them to stay up late to finish their work!) Also, as you always do, feed your child a healthy breakfast on test mornings. Once again, it is easier to focus if your tummy is not rumbling!
Walking in late on testing days can make a child nervous before they even begin! Therefore, on the actual days of the test, if your child is a walker or gets driven to school, leave enough time in the morning to make sure your child arrives before the 9:05 bell. Finally and perhaps most importantly, assure your child they are well prepared and that you have all the confidence in the world in them that they will do their best.
After the Test
After testing, the next question that starts being asked is, “When will the results be back?” This
is a question that is very difficult to answer! Each year the state has taken a different amount of time to check the tests, compile the data and return results to us. Your child’s results will be mailed directly to your home by the district as soon as they are ready. In past years this has been anywhere from February to early May and I truly have no idea what this year’s timeframe looks like.
Finally, there should be no worries about this test from either students or parents. I will be your child’s biggest cheerleader through this process (and during this whole school year!) making sure that they do their best and feel good about what they have accomplished: finally breaking through the great mystique of the big kid’s test!