Since the beginning of the 21st century standardized test scores have become particularly important. Too many of our nation’s students were struggling and not performing as well as their peers in other countries. In an effort to turn things around, George W. Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 in January 2002. Standards were set, measurable goals were established, and assessments were developed to measure student achievement.
Despite criticism of the law and the weight put on the testing, the truth remains that standardized testing is a substantial part of the modern education experience. So what does this mean for parents?
Parents are their child’s first teachers. Parents talk to their children, read to them, take them places. Parents ask their children questions and expect answers. For example: the parent asks the child to pick out a circle from other geometric shapes on a page. The purpose is to determine if the child knows what a circle is. If so, the next shape is introduced. If not, practice is provided until the child can recognize and select the circle. This is testing. Testing in school is the logical extension of this process. Its purpose is to determine what the child does and does not know so that future lessons can be designed to meet the needs so that success is ensured.
Why should parents prepare their children for standardized testing? The answer is so the child can achieve the best possible scores they can. Why is this important? Standardized testing:
- Identifies a child’s strengths and areas where improvement is needed.
- Provides information to parents so that they know how their child is doing.
- Enables school districts to design a curriculum to support the needs of every child.
- Student performance on the standardized tests impacts the funding that districts receive from the state. Significant improvement in scores can win increased state funding but significant drops in scores can decrease state funding.
How should parents prepare their children for testing? The same way they would any other test:
- Offer encouragement and reminding them NOT to worry.
- Validate that the whole testing experience will be challenging.
- Provide frequent reminders that it is important for them to make their best efforts.
- Praise his/her efforts.
- Be sure that your child gets a good night’s sleep.
Be sure that your child eats a good breakfast.