How Parents Can Help Children Prepare for Assessment Tests
These days, helping your student strengthen his or her test-taking skills takes on new meaning if you live in a state that has adopted the Common Core State Standards—and the standards’ newly aligned assessment tests.
Two consortiums are currently creating the next generation of assessments to measure students’ progress toward college and career readiness (the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)). That means that the standardized tests that your child has taken in the past will look very different as early as this year. In addition, school curriculums and expectations of students are significantly different than under the previous state standards.
How can you help your child do his or her best on assessment tests? Here are several trusted tips to share with your child to help him or her have the best chance for success on these or any important exams:
- Read all questions carefully and follow the directions. On any test, it is critical that you identify each question being asked before rushing into solving or answering the problem.
- Narrow down choices. If you are unsure of the answer to a question, eliminate choices that do not make sense or are obviously incorrect (for example, answers that include words such as always and never are red flags).
- When working on math problems, eliminate extra information provided that has nothing to do with the question being asked.
- If you get stuck on problems, mark them and move on. You can return to them later if you have time at the end of the test, but don’t waste valuable test time spinning your wheels.
- Pace yourself. At the outset of a test, do a quick calculation of how many minutes you have for each question—and give a little extra time for essay questions. Try to leave a few minutes at the end of every test to revisit skipped or troublesome problems.
- Draw out problems to help yourself visualize them better.
- Minimize test anxiety by keeping things in perspective. Remind yourself that tests are simply how teachers can evaluate what you know. The best form of test preparation is to keep up with homework and in-class work.
What can you do to prepare your student for Common Core-aligned assessment tests? Here are a few suggestions:
- Talk with your child’s teacher about how you can ease your child’s transition to school work and tests under the Common Core State Standards.
- Continue to emphasize the importance of thinking critically—an area of elevated importance under Common Core. Ask questions about what your child reads and learns. Encourage him or her to talk about how he or she feels about stories, current events and more. Have your child explain his or her thinking—in both math and reading.
- Embrace technology in your household. The new standards focus heavily on the skills needed by today’s 21st-century digital learners and incorporate research and media skills into all content areas.
As always, one of the best ways to help your child do his or her best on any exam is to equip him or her with good study skills and habits. It is also important that you stay apprised of the curricular changes that are happening in your child’s classroom and understand how those may impact the tests that your child takes. Stay in touch with your child’s teacher on the best ways for you to support your student in the era of Common Core.