Standardized Tests Are Here to Stay
By now, there isn’t a U.S. household with school-age children that hasn’t experienced a standardized test, be it national assessments like the SAT-9, SAT-10, MAT-8, Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), or TerraNova Assessment Series (CTBS/5 and CA STAR), or state tests like the FCAT (Florida), TAKS (Texas), and MCAS (Massachusetts).
While each state’s implementation and use of standardized tests has its critics, most educational experts agree that testing is a measure of how well students comprehend and apply knowledge. They also agree that high standards are a worthy goal. So, until someone comes up with a more effective measure of accountability, it looks as though standardized tests are here to stay.
With Time4Learning, students can improve critical skills through structured lessons and activities that correlate to educational standards that standardized tests are built around. And with a student-paced curriculum, children can move through education grade levels faster and accelerate learning.
How can I help my child succeed on standardized tests?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions by Time4Learning members and for good reason. In response, Time4Learning’s staff has assembled this overview on standardized testing, including practical tips and suggestions on how you can improve your child’s performance. Read on and or go to a section:
Standardized Tests by State
|State||Standardized Test||Abbrev.||State||Standardized Test||Abbrev.|
|Alabama||Alabama Reading and Mathematics Tests||ARMT||Montana||Montana Comprehensive Assessment System||MontCAS|
|Alaska||Terra Nova||SBA HSGQE||Nebraska||Nebraska State Accountability Assessments||NeSA|
|Arizona||Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards||AIMS||Nevada||Nevada Proficiency Examination Program||NPEP|
|Arkansas||Arkansas’ Augmented Benchmark Exam||AABE||New Hampshire||New England Common Assessment Program||NECAP|
|California||Standardized Testing and Reporting||STAR||New Jersey||Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers||PARCC|
|Colorado||Colorado Student Assessment Program||CSAP||New Mexico||New Mexico Statewide Articulated Assessment Program||NMSBA|
|Connecticut||Connecticut Mastery Test Connecticut Academic Performance Test||CMT CAPT||New York||New York State Testing Program||NYSTP|
|Delaware||Delaware Student Testing Program||DSTP||North Carolina||North Carolina Standardized Test||EOG|
|Florida||Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test||FCAT||North Dakota||North Dakota’s State Assessment||NDSA|
|Georgia||Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests||CRCT||Ohio||Ohio Achievement Test||OAT|
|Hawaii||Hawaii State Assessment||HSA||Oklahoma||Oklahoma Core Curriculum Tests||OCCT|
|Idaho||Idaho State Achievement Tests||ISAT||Oregon||Oregon Statewide Assessment System||OAKS|
|Illinois||Illinois Standards Achievement Test||ISAT||Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania System of School Assessment||PSSA|
|Indiana||Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress||ISTEP+||Rhode Island||New England Common Assessment Program||NECAP|
|Iowa||Iowa Test of Basic Skills Iowa Tests of Educational Development||ITBS ITED||South Carolina||South Carolina Statewide Assessment Program||SC PASS|
|Kansas||Kansas State Assessment||KSA||South Dakota||Dakota State Test of Educational Progress||STEP|
|Kentucky||Kentucky Core Content Tests||KCCT||Tennessee||Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program||TCAP|
|Louisiana||LEAP Alternate Assessment||iLEAP||Texas||Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills||TAKS|
|Maine||New England Common Assessment Program Maine Educational Assessment Maine High School Assessment||NECAP MEA MHSA||Utah||Utah Performance Assessment System for Students||U-PASS|
|Maryland||Maryland School Assessment||MSA||Vermont||New England Common Assessment Program||NECAP|
|Massachusetts||Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System||MCAS||Virginia||Virginia Standards of Learning||SOL|
|Michigan||Michigan Educational Assessment Program||MEAP||Washington||Washington Comprehensive Assessment Program||WCAP|
|Minnesota||Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments Series II||MCA II||West Virginia||West Virginia Educational Standards Test||WESTEST|
|Mississippi||Mississippi Curriculum Test Subject Area Testing Program||MCT SATP||Wisconsin||Wisconsin Knowledge and Concept Evaluation||WKCE|
|Missouri||Missouri Assessment Program||MAP||Wyoming||Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students||PAWS|
Test Preparation Pointers
At Time4Learning, we find that parents and caregivers want to help their children prepare for standardized tests, but are often unsure of what they can do. Here are our top suggestions:
1. Build Test Skills
The best preparation is to steadily build skills. Children who master math and reading fundamentals, such as; phonics, reading comprehension strategies, and facts and formulas, will be prepared for more complex questions and concepts, and will ultimately perform better on tests.
- Review of old concepts should be consistent with the learning of new skills, so children are accumulating knowledge while refreshing basics.
- A fifteen minute daily review of basic facts and skills can make a world of difference when more difficult concepts are introduced.
- Children should be reading daily to themselves and aloud to parents for best results. Reading fluency and comprehension are gained through consistent exposure to literature.
2. Test Preparation at Home
Taking a standardized test differs from taking regular school tests. Standardized tests are strictly timed and have specific instructions to follow. Schools do spend time acquainting students with what to expect, but reinforcement at home will make your child feel more prepared. At a minimum, have your child become familiar with testing procedures.
- Prior to the test, exposure to answering a variety of question types ranging from fill-in-the-blank, to multiple choice, to lengthy reading passages, and computation practice will allow students to become acquainted with a mixture of formats.
- Having children become adept with test terminology is important. Children should know the difference between synonyms and antonyms, main ideas and details, and greater than and less than, to name a few of the more tested skills. Within the questions, clues can be found, such as in the question; How many blocks are there altogether? Students should understand that the word, “altogether” indicates addition as the operation needed to answer the question sufficiently.
- Designating a particular amount of time for an activity or review lesson to be completed can help children get in the mindset of finishing work with time restraints. The use of their own timer or stopwatch can help them be conscious of time, while also providing a fun way to do quick practices of certain skills.
- Most states provide copies of tests from the years before. Parents can use these as resources guiding them toward the more tested skills. The majority of review can then be placed on those key concepts of focus. Parents should be sure their children know what to expect and how to best approach the test.
3. Test-Taking Tips
Test Prep isn’t a substitute for lack of knowledge, but parents should make sure their children know what to expect and how to best approach a big test. How are other parents coping with their big tests? Visit our Free Parents Forum and begin an online conversation. Here are tried and true strategies that help in the testing clinch!
- Children should pay close attention to directions, and should note, highlight or underline any words that may assist them in answering the questions.
- In the reading comprehension section of the test, which can be very lengthy, test-takers should start by previewing the questions prior to reading the assigned passage. This helps children know what they are looking for when they read the text.
- In multiple-choice questions, if stumped, test-takers should first rule out answers they know are incorrect. It will then be easier to figure out the correct answer. Also, make sure your child understands the test’s system for scoring blanks versus incorrect answers.
- Pay attention to time. Introduce your child to the concept of time management. Then, throughout the year and just for fun, engage your child in some timed tests or quizzes. Consider rewards to spark enthusiasm.
4. On the Week of the Test – Minimize Anxiety!
Even a well-prepared student can feel pre-test anxiety. Encourage your child to relax and to view the test as a chance to show what they have learned. Reassure them that it’s natural to feel a little nervous and that the important thing is to try their best. Finally, some last pieces of advice to make everyone in the family feel fully prepared for the testing experience: The Day Before: A good night’s sleep the night before is most important. Test scores can be greatly affected when a child hasn’t gotten enough rest. Test Day: A good breakfast the morning of the test is a terrific brain booster. Nutrients help to stimulate the brain. Don’t forget last minute supplies, such as No. 2 pencils, a watch, and extra paper for working out problems.
Parting Thoughts: Think Long-Term
If you want to change your child’s performance on standardized tests, don’t over-focus on short-term test prep, as it only builds pressure which is generally counter-productive. Remember, it takes months and years to build skills. The results are largely determined by the years of previous education. The best solution is to stay involved in your child’s education, and to keep in mind that standardized tests, while giving you insight, are not the final say on how much your child is learning or how well they will do in life or even in academics.