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Tips for Taking Standardized Tests at Cyber School

Teacher pointing at a student's laptop

CCA parent shares strategies to help cyber school students with state assessments.

Just like their peers statewide, Pennsylvania cyber school students take standardized tests to demonstrate their proficiency in mathematics and English language arts in grades 3 through 8 and science in grades 4 and 8. These Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSAs) and Keystone Exams – for high school students – provide a snapshot of schools’ effectiveness at instilling academic fundamentals in all students.

At many schools, parents worry that their children absorb too much stress from the pressure put on them to succeed, but at CCA a supportive community of teachers, parents and family mentors rallies to help children go through standardized test prep without undue pressure and offer tips for taking standardized tests.

How Can Parents Help Students With Standardized Tests?

Tests are nerve-wracking enough, without the anxiety that students pick up from teachers and parents about the importance of standardized exams. While it’s OK for your child to feel a bit anxious, your calm demeanor can help minimize worry.

Practice strong learning habits at home, instilling in your child the fundamentals of language, math and science, so they approach test day from a strong academic foundation. As the day gets closer, use these standardized test tips to simplify the process.

Have a Conversation at Home

Standardized tests are different than tests that children take for grades on their report cards. Adults know that, but kids might not. If they think they will be graded or won’t be promoted to the next grade due to “failure,” they could become stressed before testing day. To avoid this, take a moment to have a conversation about the test, tailoring the talk to your child’s needs and comprehension. You might say the school wants to know what the teacher is teaching, just to make sure that students are getting the right information. Keep the conversation informal and light, without the feel of “The Talk” over more serious matters.

Get Plenty of Sleep Before Test Day

Sleep builds brainpower. For children, restful sleep is as essential as good nutrition, hydration and safety in ensuring that they develop to their full potential. When big tests are coming up, see that your child gets plenty of sleep for several nights before the test. Make sure it’s good-quality sleep, uninterrupted and in a dark bedroom without televisions, computers, music or video games blaring.

Start the Day Right

Whether it’s in the days before a test or for life, a healthy diet and physical activity keep kids at their best – focused, attentive and ready to learn. Make sure kids are hydrated, get 60% of their calories from healthy carbohydrates such as whole grains and potatoes, get enough calcium and eat healthy snacks like fresh fruit and bite-size veggies.

Help Eliminate Stress

Creating an atmosphere to reduce stress means less stress for your child. Plan the day in advance. Review the list that teachers provide on the things your child will need for the day, such as calculators, snacks and extra paper for working out problems. Gather all those items the night before. In the morning, serve your child a healthy breakfast.

Know the route where you’re going, and leave the house with plenty of time to arrive at the test site early and register your child. Taking time to get there will give your child a chance to settle in and start the test in a relaxed, mentally alert state.

Clear the Student’s Schedule

Look at the day from your child’s viewpoint. After all this hullabaloo over a test, would you want to do schoolwork afterward? A mini break from the daily school routine motivates your child to work harder for the test and rewards them for a job well done. Plan something fun that gives your student a mental break.

5 Tips for Students Taking Standardized Tests

Many parents and students wonder how to prepare for standardized tests. It’s important to note that cyber school standardized tests are the same exams students from all schools take statewide. Although the basic academics are a normal part of every school day, standardized tests are formatted and administered differently. These five tips will help students get ready for the test.

Get to Know the Test Format

Is it multiple choice? Are there essay questions? Will students be reading long passages and answering questions to demonstrate their comprehension? What accommodations are in place for children with disabilities or English language learners? Find out from teachers and school officials what the test will look like, so your child faces no surprises.

Take Advantage of Practice Tests

Help your child prepare for what to expect by taking practice tests, available online and through schools. The Pennsylvania Department of Education posts practice tests on its website, allowing students to experience the format in advance. Stress the importance of paying close attention to directions, such as how to fill out a bubble on a computer-graded test or how to ask for help. Try designating specific times of the day for practice tests, and use a timer or stopwatch to help your child learn time management.

Read Each Question Carefully

Pay attention to the details. The wording of the question can point the student to the correct answer. In reading comprehension sections, it helps to read the questions first, so the student knows what to look for in the text.

Eliminate the Answers You Know Are Wrong

This can leave the student with one correct answer or, at least, just a couple of choices to think through. When they’ve chosen the answer, it’s best not to backtrack and second-guess unless they are positive.

Don’t Spend Too Much Time on Hard Questions

An extra piece of paper comes in handy for working through a problem, but if the student is still stumped, it’s OK to let it go for the moment and come back later. If they still don’t know, they shouldn’t leave a blank. Even if they use their best guess, they still have a chance of picking the right answer.

CCA Resources for Standardized Testing

You know your child better than anyone. Tailor your approach to the needs and comprehension levels of your student. The CCA community is available to answer questions and help your learner prepare.

Contact your assigned guidance counselors, your child’s teachers, staff stationed at Family Service Centers and family mentors. They can guide you through the process to help your child shine on test day.

Helping Students Excel at Standardized Testing

At CCA, we care about the path your child takes on the way to growth and learning. When they perform well on standardized tests, we all celebrate their accomplishments and academic progress. Contact CCA to learn how we can help your student thrive, excel and reach their full potential.

Author

Commonwealth Charter Academy

Published

April 4th, 2018

Category

Learning Lab

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