Teaching Tuesday: Family Engagement Activities for Standardized Testing
During the spring, public school students across America engage in what we commonly refer to as "standardized testing." Although test variance exists in every state, such as the type of assessments administered, the frequency of testing timelines and how the data is analyzed and used, one thing is common for all. Each student's family can play a positive role in supporting the emotional and academic preparedness of their child before and during the testing window.
As teachers, we can affirm the importance of the family during this time by maintaining open lines of communication. We have opportunities to further encourage their engagement by using the following tips to help parents and children approach the testing season with a positive attitude and confidence in the knowledge they gained during their school year.
Inform Families About Testing
The first tip is to recognize that as the teacher, it is essential to inform families of the timeframe of the pending testing window. Although standardized testing is commonplace for the classroom teacher, it may be an unfamiliar concept for many of the adults in a student's life. An explanation of the test, what it will measure and the testing format would also be helpful, and most likely appreciated by the families.
Also, provide family-friendly information about scoring, results and how the data will be used to help families better understand the necessity of the test. Ensuring that parents know when they will receive the results and the assurance that they will have support to interpret the scores correctly will give families the sense of empowerment as involved participants in their child's success.
Family Involvement in Test Preparation
As teachers, we can also encourage parents to help make studying fun and alleviate any test anxiety their student may experience. For example, setting smaller goals, such as learning five new words during a study session, will help to measure the student’s progress.1 Additionally, having some kind of reward after completing a goal will help the student to look forward to completing their goals and make it fun when they achieve it. This can also help students gain confidence in their knowledge of the concepts/learning materials.
Additionally, to alleviate test anxiety, encourage practicing relaxation techniques if a student begins to feel nervous. This can include taking a moment to take a few deep breaths1 or taking a break from studying to do a quick five-minute stretch. Showing students that it’s okay to take a quick break to relax and reset their mind is something they can take with them and practice throughout their schooling whenever they feel stressed about standardized tests or schoolwork in general.
Affirm Families for Their Role on Testing Day
Family involvement during testing season is another important aspect for us to communicate to parents. Encouraging practical suggestions that can be implemented on testing day in the home environment can help support student success during standardized tests.
According to Scholastic, teachers say that students who struggle the most on testing days often didn't have enough sleep or didn't eat a good breakfast the day of the test.1 Preparing students physically and mentally for testing days has proven to positively contribute to students' attitude and confidence on testing days.
Families may notice that a student is nervous the morning of testing, so starting the morning off as calm as possible can really benefit each child. Examples of this include waking up a little earlier, having clothes and supplies ready the night before and offering encouraging and positive comments.2
Prepare Families to Meet Expectations
Finally, in preparation for the testing season, teachers can intentionally communicate to families just how vital their ongoing contributions to their child's education are throughout the school year. Expressing appreciation for family support with homework, good study habits, attendance and communication are all positive contributors to a students' preparation for testing.
In addition, remind families that their ongoing practices throughout the school year maximize a child's learning capacity, leading to test-taking confidence. Clear communication with families on the importance of their support and involvement is always welcomed and remains one of the most important contributing factors in their child's educational experience.
The importance of family communication before and during the standardized testing window is valuable to families, students and the teacher. Taking the extra time and effort to do this will pay dividends for all stakeholders who are impacted during the school's testing window.
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1 Scholastic, Help Your Child Prepare for Standardized Tests in March 2022
2 Colorín Colorado, Parent Tips: How to Help Your Child Prepare for Standardized Tests in March 2022
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.
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