By Ajumoke Saingbe-Nathan, NBFA Elementary School Principal
Your student will likely come home after a day of school testing and simply say ‘fine’ or ‘good’ when you ask how it went.
If you ask the morning of the test if they feel ready, you might as well be asking about the last Martian invasion.
But just because your student seems aloof about discussing their testing experiences doesn’t mean test taking isn’t taxing on our students and that it isn’t important to prepare them.
There is an important balance in preparing students for standardized testing, and not creating test anxiety.
On April 24 and April 25 NBFA will be administering the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) tests for fifth and eighth-grade students and we thought a few simple prep tips could come in handy.
Parents play an important part in helping their children give their best performance on a test.
During the weeks leading up to the assessment begin to talk with your student about the importance of giving their best effort during testing.
The following thoughts will help you in preparing your child for being ready to give the test his or her all.
The night before:
Help your child get to bed on time. Research shows that being well-rested helps students do better.
Help children resolve immediate arguments before going to bed.
Keep your routine as normal as possible. Upsetting natural routines may make children feel insecure.
Mention the test to show you’re interested, but don’t dwell on it.
Plan ahead to avoid conflicts on the morning of the test.
The morning of the test:
Get up early to avoid rushing. Be sure to have your child at school on time.
Have your child eat a good breakfast but not a heavy one. Remember, NBFA serves free breakfast to all students, regardless of families’ financial status.
Research shows that students do better if they have breakfast before they take tests.
Be positive about the test. Acknowledge that tests can be hard and that they’re designed so that no one will know all of the answers. Explain that doing your best is what counts. The important thing is to make your child comfortable and confident about the test.
After the test:
Talk to your child about his or her feelings about the test, making sure you acknowledge the effort such a task requires.
Discuss what was easy and what was hard; discuss what your child learned from the test.
Discuss what changes your child would make if he or she were to retake the test.
Explain that performance on a test is not a condition for you to love your child. You love your child just for the person he or she is.
Test prep is especially prevalent in high-poverty and medium-poverty schools, according to a recent education survey. Thirty-six percent of teachers spend at least a month on test prep for state-mandated exams, for example. By contrast, the figure is 23 percent in low-poverty schools. AT NBFA, test prep is done in a non-threatening way, as each day’s lesson is designed with the content area standards in mind and with the goal of preparing students to think versus simply regurgitating materials. Students will do better on any assessment when they are able to think critically, analyze concepts and create reasonable arguments. It is not uncommon for teachers to present sample items for analysis and class discussions throughout the year- we believe this method puts less pressure on children.
In addition to strategies shared above, there are a number of ways in which parents can maximize children’s learning capabilities in an ongoing manner. These include:
Helping your child to develop good reading and studying habits
Assisting with homework and staying in communication with classroom teacher
Engaging your child with educational games and providing learning opportunities including nature walk, trips to museums, etc.
Ensuring your child has an overall great attendance at school
Finally, remember that standardized tests and grading systems are not perfect- as you help your child to do his/her best on school assessments, also remind them that tests are just one part of education. With your support and encouragement, he/she will be well ahead on the path to a bright future!