Helping Your Child with Standardized Tests

By Anne Marie Vega, Principal

I am sure we all remember those days from our own school experience of taking standardized tests–filling in the bubbles, #2 pencils, timers, teacher-read directions, etc. It may have filled us with anxiety…we may have enjoyed the change of pace…we may still remember what “percentile” we were in….

Standardized testing serves an important purpose in the educational process. It gives one measure of how a child is progressing overall and in comparison to other children of his/her age or grade level. It is by no means a full picture of a child’s intelligence or skill level. It is one measure taken on one day of a child’s life. As a school we do take these tests seriously and use them as one component of evaluation of the school’s curriculum and continued progress. We do analyze the scores each year, looking for children who show exceptional progress or who are in need of further monitoring. However, we do not use them as a sole measure of a child’s progress or the school’s success.

There are measures you can take as parents to help your child be the most successful during this testing time. Here are a few things you can do to ease anxiety and set your child up to do his/her best:

  • Ensure a good night’s rest:  a well-rested child has an alert and focused brain
  • Provide a solid, nourishing breakfast: a breakfast with lean protein and complex carbohydrates gives lasting energy and allows the child to focus and stay attentive
  • Provide “down-time” at home in the evenings: consider quiet evenings with books and board games as a way to wind-down and reset the brain; try to avoid extra events and activities that stress the family
  • Keep positive: encourage your child’s self-esteem and confidence by reminding him/her of individual strengths and abilities. Be a cheerleader.
  • Talk with your child about testing tips: remind your child of study/test tips such as, rereading the question, checking over your work, looking for key words, skipping questions you don’t know and then returning to them, making “good” guesses
  • Love your child: remind your child that how he/she performs on a test in no way alters your love for him/her. Encourage your child to do his/her best, but emphasize that their scores are only scores.

At the school level we make attempts to ease the stress of testing. We offer breaks in-between tests. We gather in small groups. We give students candy mints to help their concentration. We only test for brief periods each day and mostly in the morning hours. We remain positive about the whole process.
We are partners in this educational process. All of us desire the continued growth and progress of each of our children. If we work together great things will happen. Our children will continue “to grow in wisdom, age, and favor among God and man.”