Testing is about to begin in Kentucky for all public school students. Standardized tests currently play a major role in the United States public schools. Your child may take one or more standardized tests during the school year, and your child’s teacher may spend class time on test preparation throughout the year.
As a parent, there are a number of ways that you can support your child before and after taking a standardized test, as well as a number of ways you can support your child’s learning habits on a daily basis that will help your child be more prepared when it’s time to be tested. While many parents, educators, school leaders and policymakers disagree about the kinds of tests administered, how the scores should be used, and how frequently students should be tested, it is important to be supportive of your child’s efforts on standardized tests, and to help her do her best.
You can also learn more about testing from teachers, parent liaisons and your local PTA organization to better understand how testing is being carried out at your child’s school, and how the results are being used. Many teachers will send information home about testing schedules and class preparation plans.
Information that you should know includes:
• What is the test and what will it measure?
• Will the test results affect your child, school, or both?
• Are there ways that you can help your child prepare for the test?
If your child has struggled with a particular area or subject in the past, you may be able to help that child overcome some of that difficulty by providing some extra practice. Many workbooks target test preparation by offering practice exercises and questions like the ones students see on the test. Focus your practice on your child’s weaknesses rather than his or her strengths so that the child doesn’t get bored with the exercises.
If your child has trouble taking tests, try practicing test questions and studying new words. Your child’s school or the library may have some samples to use. Keep the sessions short, and set small, manageable goals so that the extra practice boosts your child’s confidence. Discuss your concerns with the teacher and/or school administrator. If you believe that your child’s difficulty with standardized tests may be the symptom of a problem such as a language or learning difficulty, speak with your child’s teacher to learn if your child qualifies for any assessment accommodations.
Many teachers report that students who don’t do well on tests haven’t gotten enough sleep, and haven’t eaten breakfast on the morning of the test. Doing both of these things will ensure that your child is working at full capacity.
Some schools may supply the tools your child needs for the test, such as pencils, an eraser, paper, and a calculator. Others may require the students to bring those materials themselves. Check with your child’s teacher to see if you need to provide your child with any of these materials. Also, check to see whether you child will be able to make up the test if she is sick on test day.
Staying calm will help your child stay calm. In addition to these strategies, there are a number of ways that you can maximize your child’s learning capabilities throughout the school year, which can lead to confident test-taking.
Some of these strategies include:
• Assisting your child with homework and ensuring that your child is completing all homework assignments
• Helping your child to develop good study habits, thinking skills, and a positive attitude towards education from an early age.
• Ensuring that your child has good attendance at school.
• Staying in communication with your child’s teacher.
• Encouraging your child to read as much as possible, and to increase his or her vocabulary – even reading magazines, newspapers, and comic books regularly will help improve reading skills.
• Looking for educational games and programs that engage your child
• Helping your child learn how to follow directions carefully.
• Finally, remember that standardized tests and grading systems are not perfect; each format has its own limitations. As you help your child do the best on tests taken and in all of his or her schoolwork, also remind that child that testing is just one part of education. With your support and involvement, your child will be well on the way to a bright future.
Students vary the test-taking strategies they use according to the type of test they’re taking. Most standardized tests employ multiple-choice questions. Here’s a list of test-taking strategies that students use to answer multiple-choice questions:
Read the entire question first. Look for key words in the question. Read all answer choices before choosing the correct answer. Answer easier questions first. Make smart guesses. Stick with your first answer. Pace yourself. Check your work carefully.
Don’t forget Tractor Supply Paper Clover Drive April 13-24 at Harlan’s Tractor Supply Store.
“The Paper Clover fundraiser is a significant part of Tractor Supply Company’s support of 4-H programs throughout the 1,300-plus communities we serve,” said Christi Korzekwa, senior vice president, marketing, Tractor Supply Company.
“We are proud to be able to provide essential funding to more than 1,000 county 4-H programs. These programs make a positive impact on young people that last a lifetime. The continued success of the Tractor Supply Paper Clover fundraisers demonstrates the importance of our 4-H partnership with our customers, team members and communities.”
For more information, contact the Harlan County Cooperative Extension Service at 606-573-4464.
Raymond Cox is the Harlan County extension agent for 4-H/youth development. Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.