Achievement testing is upon us! Elementary and middle school students test next week, and ninth and tenth graders test the following week. Why do we spend this time—and money—on testing? Why is achievement testing important?
Standardized achievement testing provides to parents, students, and the school an objective measurement of academic progress. Teachers use their own assessments to determine student progress in a subject; standardized testing provides a second measurement that helps teachers, parents, and the school to make comparisons of the performance of the school as a whole as well as that of individual students.
Ability testing, taken by students in the even-numbered grades from 2 through 10, provides another objective measurement. When compared to the student’s achievement, ability testing helps parents and teachers discern whether a student is performing at, above, or below expectation.
Students in grades 8 and 10 will take time during selected classes several days before and/or after the major testing days to have sufficient time to complete ability testing as well as achievement testing.
How can your student prepare? Because standardized achievement tests measure how much a student has learned about various subjects (e.g., reading and math), a student’s progress in his academic classes is most important. Parents can help their students prepare for testing by encouraging good school habits:
- Be well rested. Adequate sleep—and even an extra hour of sleep the week of testing—enables students to maintain focus during testing.
- Eat well. Nutritious meals and snacks during testing week are important—as they are during other times that mental concentration is needed. After the initial burst of energy they give, sugary breakfasts and snacks leave a student tired, hungry, and struggling to focus on the material at hand.
- Be prepared. Having the right tools, such as sharpened pencils and good erasers, helps students avoid loss of focus and time. Testing week is also a great week to dig into a new book. Students are encouraged to read a book when finished with a test. What new reading adventure could help keep your student motivated?
- Be on time. Being on time—even early—on testing days can help a student to unpack, settle in, mentally focus, and be ready to go when testing begins.
- Pray. Standardized achievement testing does not measure a student’s value, nor does it congratulate a student for the intellectual capacity that is given by God. Instead, it simply attempts to give a snapshot of a student’s current academic achievement. Students may need to be reminded to do their best and that this is not something to be apprehensive about. Students should take their time, keep moving, and ultimately do their best to please the Lord. Teachers pray at the start of each testing day, and praying with mom or dad can really help a student to relax and have a positive outlook on the experience.