Thursday, January 22, 2009

How do I help my child prepare for high stakes testing?

Tonight at work we had a parent meeting for our third grade parents about the CRCT (Georgia's high stakes test). The meeting had been cancelled, but we had parents show up so we did the "dog and pony", and we will do it again in a few weeks. But the same question came up several times, both at the real meeting and again at the PTO meeting that followed.

Since I know I have fellow teachers that read this blog, I am hoping that they and other parents will chime in with ideas that I can put in my parent newsletter that I send out each week, as well as for what we can say at the "real" meeting in a couple of weeks.

Here is a short list of what we came up with "on the fly" tonight.

1. Read, Read, Read to your child, with your child, and having your child read to you. Books, on grade level, below grade level, above grade level. Magazines, comic books, newspapers, President Obama's inaugural address. After they are done reading, ask them those 5 "W's" questions. Who was the story about? What was the story about? Where did the story take place? When did the the story take place? Why did the characters have that problem? How was the problem resolved?

If your child does not like to read, start them off slowly. Start off at 5 minutes at a time, then the next night 10 minutes, then 15, and so on. Oh and if it has words on it, it counts as reading. ;)

2. Practice basic math facts, daily. In the car, at the dinner table, in the bath, right before bed, from addition and subtraction (adding and subtracting to 10) to multiplication and division, daily. The more they practice the fast the facts will come, and in a timed test situation if they can just "know" 2+2=4 the easier they will find the test.

3. Review vocabulary words, daily. Talk about those "math words" like sum, addend, multiple. Get the child to tell you what the word means. Go to Google and type in 3rd grade math vocabulary and you will get a ton of words that they should know for the tests.

4. Go online and look at practice tests (Google CRCT Georgia practice tests in our case) print some out and have your child practice the questions at home. Read through the question with your child and have them pick it apart. This one is especially helpful in 3rd grade because before third grade the tests are read to them, in third grade and beyond they have to read the test to them.

5. Remind your child to look for the "tricks" that the test writers put in the questions. Look for the word NOT, because it confuses them.

6. Relax and remind them that they "know" their stuff, they just need to take their time, read the questions carefully.

Again please if you have any ideas, tips, tricks etc. that I can share with my student's parents, and with your fellow blog readers, SHARE! :)
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