students in a classroom writing with pencils

INSIGHTS FOR PARENTS: State testing tips for parents and students

Spring time means state test season is here, bringing some stress and anxiety to students and many of their parents. These assessments are a helpful way to measure student learning progress, but they aren’t the only measure of what students are learning.

Student progress also includes:

·         Review of daily class work.

·         Observations of students during classroom assignments.

·         Conversations with parents and guardians about student work and learning styles.

Tests are one measure of a student’s learning progress

Tests are not the only guide to understand student knowledge and progress. Standardized tests can provide a useful view of how students are doing individually and as a grade-level group, but they can also hide progress because many students don’t perform well on tests. Ideally, teachers and schools are using the results as one required measure of student progress and to help students with areas of academic concern. They can be a way to make improvements in instruction for the school, class and individual students.

This is the reason students must do their best on test day. Students, parents and teachers who do not understand this may diminish the importance of the tests, resulting in lower effort by students who think they don’t matter. Test results are used to identify tools and strategies to help students learn more.

Tips to help students beat test stress

Annual tests are required, but they shouldn’t be upsetting to students. It’s normal for students to feel a little stress, but it should not feel overwhelming and crippling.

Parents can help students prepare and keep the tests in perspective. Students should try to do their best while understanding that they are a normal school activity. Students should take them seriously — not as an event that labels them as a good or bad student.

Parents can play an important role in helping their children test well and avoid high anxiety. These tips can help your children do their best and feel good about their effort.

  • Remind them that this is just one part of the work they are doing in school. Help them keep it in perspective and not worry too much.

  • Review the practice test if one is available. Ask your child’s teacher to help you find one. If they know what to expect, they can manage their fear of the unknown.

  • Talk to your child’s teacher. It’s always a good idea to connect with the teacher to understand your child’s learning style and areas of improvement. You can spend more time helping with reading skills, for example, if you know that’s a weaker academic skill. Practice will build skills and confidence.


Tips for students to prepare the night before the test

Review your study notes, if any. Use the night before the test to go over any notes during practice tests and study sessions over the past few days. This is not for new information. Annual tests measure progress throughout the term. Cramming for the test would not be helpful.

Don’t study too late. Late night study sessions aren’t very effective. Plan to give yourself a brain break rather than studying until the last minute.

Eat a good meal. Brain work burns a lot of calories and needs good fuel for focus. Be sure to plan a good meal the night before the test and nutritious, non-sugary breakfast food the next day.

Prepare for the morning. Students will receive instructions for what to bring. Most supplies and materials, like pencils, scratch paper and calculators, are provided at school. Water bottles are often allowed. Pack everything into your backpack the night before to avoid last-minute organizing and stress the next morning.

Give your brain a break. Try not to worry about the test the night before. Plan time to relax, read a book, write in a journal, or talk to your family. Turning off your brain for studying will help you wind down before bed, making it easier to get a good night’s sleep to help with test performance the next day.

Get some exercise. Exercise is always a helpful way to take a mental break. Plan time for physical activity by going outside for a short walk, hitting the gym, riding your bike, or doing any non-mental activity that helps reduce stress and recharge your brain.

Set your alarm. Don’t oversleep. Set your alarm and don’t overuse the snooze button. If you usually struggle to wake up on time, consider moving your alarm across the room, so you have to get up to turn it off. Plan to get up with enough time to eat breakfast and get out of the house with minimal stress.

Get a good sleep. Oversleeping is usually caused by staying up too late. Be sure to get enough sleep to ensure that your brain will operate at full capacity. Go to bed at a scheduled time that will allow you to wake up refreshed.