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"I tell my students that it is important for them to come to school with their 'A' game. That means come having had a full night's sleep, a good, healthy breakfast and a positive attitude." — Tonya Breland
By Miriam Myers , GreatSchools Staff
Each state creates standards by grade level or grade band (i.e. k-2, 3-5) and specific skills students should know at each grade level. The tests, in turn, are supposed to be aligned with the standards. For example in California, in third-grade math, students should understand the special properties of 0 and 1 in multiplication and division. If a teacher is teaching this standards-based curriculum, he is preparing the students for the state tests.
While the focus in the classroom should be on learning the content that will be tested, students also need to learn testing strategies and tips throughout the year in preparation for the tests. If your child is familiar with the format of the test, she's likely to be more confident and have fewer jitters. Test-taking skills will also help her in the future in school and on the job.
Look for practice tests
Tonya Breland, an interim vice-principal and Milken Foundation National Educator award recipient, offers these tips to parents: "Most states have practice questions from their tests that you can access. If not, talk to your child's school for practice test questions. It helps you and your child to know what is expected of them. It also allows you an opportunity to work with your child to show support. Feeding your child with belief is equally important. Let them know how much you believe in their success and help them to be mentally, academically and physically prepared during the testing time."
Ask the teacher how tests are regularly used in the classroom
Test questions come in different formats: multiple choice, short response, open-ended response in which students may have to draw diagrams and provide text, essay questions and true/false questions. The teacher should use a variety of formats throughout the year in tests and quizzes across subject areas to allow students to become comfortable and learn different test-taking strategies.
Many test-taking strategies - understanding directions, estimating, checking work, making an educated guess, predicting and problem solving - should be taught on a daily basis in the classroom. These skills should not be taught as isolated test-taking skills but as skills in relation to each subject area.
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