k-8 Benchmark Testing
How Parents Can Help
Due to the lengthy nature of the tests — and their importance — many students become stressed as testing days approach. Parents play a vital role in helping students mentally prepare for testing. The first and most important thing to do is to be positive and remind your child that they’ll be tested on what they’ve been practicing all year. There are no trick questions nor new material on standardized tests (except possible field test items which don’t count against them).
In the weeks prior to testing, try out these strategies for helping your kids prepare:
- Allow your child to practice “endurance” reading. The reading portion of most standardized tests requires focus and stamina, as there are many passages and questions to get through. If your child loves to read, he probably won’t be stressed by this portion of the test. However, for children that have a hard time sitting down to read for ten minutes, encourage them to read for longer periods of time.
- Ask your child questions about what they’re reading. Try to get them to explain the plot and describe characters’ actions.
- Take note of new words that they see in any kind of text. Have them try to use context clues or knowledge of word parts to determine the meanings of unfamiliar words.
- Encourage using a calculator appropriately to solve math problems. The calculator is only helpful if it is used correctly.
- Review strategies for solving math problems. Pose a problem and see how many different ways your child can solve it. This encourages higher-order thinking skills.
- Review basic math facts. These are often the building blocks of more difficult questions your child will encounter on the test.
- Encourage asking questions in class about unfamiliar concepts. Teachers often don’t realize that a child isn’t understanding a concept until they administer a test.
- Review a copy of your state’s released test items. Have your child work through test items with you to check for comprehension and skill knowledge.
During the week of testing, you can:
- Be punctual. Stay aware of the testing schedule and make sure that your child is at school on time on testing days.
- Get healthy sleep. Ensure that your child has gone to bed on time the night before so they’re well rested.
- Serve up a good meal. Make a healthy breakfast, including protein and healthy fat, to curb hunger during the testing session.
- Listen intently. Encourage kids to listen to and follow all directions given by the test administrator. If they have questions, they need to be addressed before testing begins.
- Take a timeout. Teach your child how to take “brain breaks” by stopping for a minute and taking a few deep breaths to help reduce test anxiety.
- Plan a treat for when testing is complete. This could be something as simple as a pizza and movie night or a weekend outing to a local park.