Preparing For Standardized Testing

Since 2002, federal education guidelines have required states to annually test students in grades 3 through 8 in math and reading. Standardized testing has become an integral part of our education system, starting in elementary school and continuing through college.

Whether you’re a fan of standardized testing or not, we must face the fact that if you want your child to succeed, they need to perform well on standardized tests.

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) gave state education boards the responsibility to issue standardized tests to elementary and middle school students. In Georgia, there is the CRCT (or Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests). In Florida, there is the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). And in North Carolina, there is the End of Grade Test (EOG).

All of these exams are different in name, but they cover many of the same basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics.

What are some advantages of standardized testing?

Standardized testing is a useful benchmark for comparing schools and districts across the state. With a single and identical exam, it’s fairly easy to compare the performance of one school to another. This helps states decide where more resources need to be spent and where better teachers are needed.

Many critics point out that standardized testing constricts what students learn in class. Schools are encouraged to focus on exam prep instead of real learning. While this criticism may be true, it doesn’t change the fact that your child still needs to take the exam.

Your child’s eventual score will serve as a good metric for how they compare to state or nationwide educational goals. Where do they need help? Where are they succeeding? Standardized tests help us point to areas that need more attention.

Standardized tests are also criticized for restricting creativity. This is certainly true, but at the same time, even young students need to be exposed to a central part of our education system. In a few short years, they will be on their way to taking the SAT or ACT – practicing your test-taking skills early will set you up for success in the future.

These exams also carry considerable weight regarding the placement of your student. If they exceed standards, they might be placed in a higher-level class, while if they perform below expectations, then they might be put in a more remedial course.

How can you and your child prepare for the big test?

It’s the middle of the school year and you just found out that the big standardized test is only a few weeks away. How can you prepare?

  • Know exactly what to expect. Prior to test day, go online to your state’s BOE website. Chances are they have an entire study guide or review packet for the exam. Spend one on one time with your child over the course of a few weeks to make sure they understand the information.
    Spend extra time on trouble areas. Every student has their own strengths and weaknesses – help your child identify them. If they are struggling in reading, devote extra practice each week to working on vocabulary. If they are having trouble with math, make multiplication and division flashcards to practice on the go.
  • Speak with their teacher(s). Your child’s teacher knows a great deal about your child’s test-taking skills. Schedule a parent-teacher conference to understand how your child can improve before the test.
  • Review test-taking strategies. On your state’s exam, is it better to skip a question and leave it blank or take a quick guess? Depending on the exam’s scoring criteria, one strategy may deduct more points than another. Teach your child to use scratch paper, show their work, and avoid spending too much on any single question.
  • Preparing the day/night before the exam. The night before the test, make sure your child gets a good night of rest and wakes up feeling confident and ready. They should eat a wholesome, hearty breakfast before the exam and aren’t focused on any outside stressors.
  • Get a tutor. If you are concerned about your child performance in school or on their standardized test, get a tutor. With todays technology, Professional Online Tutoring has become the way many students are receiving the help they need to succeed. Online tutoringsaves the expenses associated with travel, not to mention the amount of time that is saved. A little bit of professional help goes a long way!