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Handling Standardized Tests    

For public schools in Illinois, standardized testing will be taking place in early March, so we decided we would address that issue in this month’s column.  Testing creates a good deal of anxiety for some students and can be trying for parents as well.  Here are some tips for how to handle that as well as how to help your students prepare to do the best they can.

Take the attitude with your student that testing is a part of life for all of us rather than a big event to fear.  These standardized tests can be a big deal for teachers and schools as well and sometimes teachers pass on their anxiety to students.  As parents it is good for you to know this and to assure your students that tests are just normal things to approach with small, rather than overblown, consequences.  Assuring your students of your care and love for them no matter how they perform on a test may be helpful as well.

Kids will do best if they are well rested and well fed when they test.  If you can help them relax and get a good night’s sleep before testing and make sure they have a good breakfast they will be as alert as they can.  It will also contribute to their emotional well being.

It may be useful to have a “debriefing” with your student after the testing, particularly if they have expressed anxiety about it.  Reassure them about their value regardless of how they feel about the test.  It may also be useful to explain that standardized tests are supposed to have information on them that the children haven’t been taught.  Kids who are used to knowing everything on a test, or at least being exposed to it, might be discouraged at not knowing some things they are asked.  Explain to them that this is just the way the tests work.  In order to figure out how much students know it is important to put things on the test that most students won’t know.