By: Lissa Weidenfeller, Principal
North Rockford Middle School
For some students, taking a test can be exciting because they get to prove what they know, but for others it can be extremely frightening. If a student is not prepared for a test or doesn’t know how to take the test, he/she can be at a severe disadvantage.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, it’s helpful for a child to understand why schools give tests. Explain to your child that tests are like yardsticks. Schools use standardized tests (MEAP, MME) to measure, and then improve education. For example, assessment results may suggest that the school needs to strengthen the course curriculum or change teaching techniques. The majority of schools use assessments to compare students within the school, district, county, and state.
It’s good for your child to be excited or concerned about taking a test because it means they care. However, it’s not good for your child to develop “test anxiety.” Excessive worrying about doing well on a test can mean disaster for a student, even causing their mind to go blank when taking the test. The majority of the students who suffer from test anxiety also tend to worry about their success in school. They worry about the future, and are extremely self-critical. Instead of feeling challenged by the prospect of success, they become afraid of failure. This makes the student anxious about tests and their own abilities. The student may become so worked up that they feel incompetent about the subject matter on the test and their mind goes blank from the pressure. Talking to your child about testing can help reduce some of these fears.
Here are the four “R’s” from Principal Communicator to help your child feel confident about taking tests throughout their school years.
RECEPTIVE: Attitude is everything. Help your child have a receptive attitude toward test taking by emphasizing that tests are just one part of the learning experience. Remind your child that a test is simply a measuring stick to see how much they have learned, not how much they haven’t learned.
RELAXED: Don’t let your child get hung up about how hard a certain test might be, the negative consequences of doing poorly and other fears. Make sure that your child knows that your approval is not dependent on a test score. Anxiety can block the best-prepared student from doing well.
READY: Become knowledgeable about the tests your child takes. Tests assess a child’s knowledge at a particular point in time. Be sure that your child has completed the day-by-day schoolwork upon which tests are based. Be informed about the testing at each grade and pay particular attention to when standardized tests are given in your school.
RESTED: Whenever a test will be given, make sure that your child gets plenty of sleep the night before, has a good breakfast, and most importantly, goes to school that day to avoid having to make-up the test.
Most importantly, talk to your son/daughter about tests. Mark the test dates on your calendar, and praise your child for doing well. If your child struggles on tests, talk to your child about their experience during test taking and share this information with his/her teacher. The teacher may have additional suggestions based on their experience of working with your child.
Additional tips for parents and students can be found on the Internet by searching for “test taking tips”.