By Dorothy Winston, School Services Specialist, Army Reserve Child, Youth and School ServicesMarch 14, 2013
Parents can take steps throughout the entire school year to prepare students for state assessments. Based on geographic location, state assessments take place during the Spring and prior to the end of the school year for students in grades three through eight. High School Students take end of the year course assessments. Some states use assessments for grade promotion. Communication, encouragement, independence, and organization are the groundwork for successful state assessment results.
Before testing begins, establish a good rapport with your child's teacher(s). Keep the lines of communication open about your child's progress and attend parent teacher conferences. This feedback will highlight areas of weakness prior to test time. If improvements are necessary, utilize test preparation materials. A great resource for Military Children adjusting to new state standards is Student Online Achievement Resources, (SOAR), www.soarathome.org. This online tool provides both corrective and enhanced instruction. SOAR focuses on Mathematics, Reading, and Language Arts for students in grades two through twelve and this service is free. Students who use SOAR, are able to take assessments aligned with state standards, receive a response based on the assessment, and will be directed to a tutorial.
Encouraging your child during the year is another step in the preparation process. Clearly emphasize the importance and value of education and project a positive attitude about homework and school projects. An optimistic outlook about completing assigned tasks will promote a sense of ownership when students are presented with homework and independent study. In addition, students should be confident to ask questions during class and at home before finishing assignments. Congratulate your child when he/she achieves strong academic scores on essays, projects, homework, and group assignments. This practice of praise will encourage the child to present their best work. As a result, this will reduce anxiety on testing days, with students and parents having the same understanding of the student doing their best.
In promoting an environment for a student to complete their best work, it is very important to let the student find answers without help. Students should be able to work independently. When students are finishing homework, parents can complete a correlating activity to show the relevance of the skill. For example, if your child is working on math problems, reconcile bank accounts during the same time. Parents are expected to provide guidance when needed, not answers. Carrying out homework assignments alone endorses lifelong learning skills and simulates actual testing conditions.
The most important tip in assessment training is organization. At the beginning of the school year, highlight all testing dates on a home calendar. This will give your student adequate time to prepare in advance for upcoming assessments. During homework and study time, ensure your child has all necessary materials to complete assignments. Assist your child with time management. Establish a set routine and timeframe for homework to be completed. If students are using study guides or practice exams, create test conditions with a quiet, well-lit area for the student to work without music or cell phone distractions. Working in this environment can build confidence and limit test apprehension. On the day of the test, confirm your child arrives to school on time, eats breakfast, and relaxes. As a parent, promote the importance of getting enough rest prior to testing day.
There are several steps that parents can take throughout the year to help students prepare for state assessments. A vital step in the process is contacting teachers and staying informed of your child's progress. Secondly, support the student in academic endeavors and assist in enriching the learning experience. With this in mind, give your student the freedom to complete assignments and projects independently. Finally, arrange the student's homework area with necessary equipment to ensure success. With the implementation of these guidelines, your child will be ready to tackle state tests.