On April 8, the testing window will open in Morgan School District for your children to take the Utah mandated computer based Criterion Referenced Tests (CRT). The testing window will end on Friday, May 10. The week of May 13-17 will be used to allow students to take the test that they may have missed taking during the regular testing window. These tests are used to measure students’ knowledge and skills in language arts, math & science. Based on students’ performance on these assessments, significant decisions are made by the student, parent, teacher, administration, and the district. The purpose of my comments in this article is to address high-stakes testing and the concerns that such testing brings to all stake holders in this process. The results of high-stakes tests do not give a clear picture of the student’s knowledge because of many reasons and the one that will be addressed in this article is performance by the student on that given time period when taking the test. Let’s address one of the factors that prevent students from doing their best. Research indicates that modest levels of anxiety can motivate students to study and perform well. However, when heightened levels of anxiety become evident, they may interfere with the student’s ability to think clearly and perform well on tests, resulting in an underestimate of the student’s knowledge. With the increasing pressures of the CRT, it is advised that parents help prepare students for testing by providing them with strategies to effectively manage feelings of anxiousness. Recent research indicates that adequate test preparation can significantly improve students’ attitudes toward test taking, thereby enhancing their performance. Based upon current research, a number of preparation practices have proven to be effective in reducing test anxiety and helping students demonstrate their knowledge and skills on high stakes tests. The following strategies may assist students and parents in reducing test anxiety: Tips for Parents ¢ Note test dates on your home calendar. (April 8-May 10) ¢ Schedule appointments and other extra-curricular activities for students on non-testing days. ¢ Keep in close contact with your child’s teacher regarding academic progress and performance. ¢ Be aware of your child’s strengths and weaknesses. ¢ Praise your child’s strengths and make a plan to provide needed support in areas of weakness. ¢ Praise your child for good effort, even when he/she is struggling with learning. ¢ Encourage your child to do his/her best work possible, rather than focusing on a specific score. ¢ On the days of testing, see that your child is well rested and eats a balanced breakfast. ¢ See that your child arrives at school on time and is relaxed. ¢ Practice relaxation techniques, using strategies to induce calm and increase mental focus. ¢ Do not send your child to school if illness is apparent. ¢ Try not to demonstrate signs of anxiousness about the test and its results. We, as a district, appreciate the support that you as parents give us and that is why we often lead the state in many areas of testing results!
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