I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Carson-Dellosa. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
I’m going to be upfront here and admit that I am not a fan of standardized testing – neither as an educator or as a parent. As a teacher, it always pained me to see students stress out about the yearly tests they were given and not do well because the test asked questions in ways they might not be familiar with. As a parent, I would definitely prefer to see my child spend time interacting in the classroom over sitting and taking hours of standardized tests.
However, not being a fan of standardized tests doesn’t make them go away. The fact is that this type of testing is a new reality in most classrooms and is being used to make some rather important decisions such as future class placements for students and school funding priorities for districts. Helping our students do well on these types of tests is probably a better use of time than lamenting how much we hate them.
One of the biggest challenges of preparing for these standardized tests is the difficulty students have responding to some of the types of questions that show up on the tests since they often are not used in their day to day school work. (Teachers often choose or modify curriculum so that it is more hands on and engaging for students since that is how they learn best.) Think of those typical analogy questions as an example.
Right about now, you are probably thinking to yourself
“Great, but how do I help my child prepare for standardized tests?”
The easiest and most effective way is to purchase classes or materials specifically designed for this sole purpose. Since these tests are measuring the students’ ability to take tests as much as it is their knowledge, it stands to reason that students who have become more familiar with the types of questions they will encounter on the test will have an advantage over the students who haven’t.
In addition to letting students experience sample test questions and formats, test prep materials also help students learn to budget their time during testing which can make a huge difference in whether the student has a chance to address all of the questions or not. Test prep materials also help students avoid making typical test taking mistakes and helps to build their confidence as well as reduces their anxiety which helps cultivate success.
I was sent Carson-Dellosa and Spectrum Test Prep and Practice books for fourth grade and was very impressed. I recommend using a program like this over taking a test-prep class for a few reasons. First is the cost. Test prep classes can be very costly! Secondly, having an at-home program allows you to fit in test prep at your own convenience. I know our schedule is already crazy between sports practices and games, cub scouts, and other activities. I love being able to squeeze in a few minutes of practice when we have the time and not being tied to a scheduled class. Lastly, you can control the pace and content of the review. If you find that your child is whipping through the reading comprehension with ease but struggles with the written expression portion, you can adjust your review accordingly.
The Carson-Dellosa and Spectrum Test Prep and Practice books are grade specific and come with access to additional state specific resources. The Test Prep book gives test tips and strategies for each type of question on the test. It’s very much like having a coach whispering in your ear, giving you hints on the best way to proceed. Once the student has the basics down, they can move onto the Test Practice book which gives them the experience of handling the test questions with no help. The book comes with an answer key so parents do not have to second guess what the answer might be. All of the tests in the Test Practice book are reproducible so that tests can be taken more than once for additional practice.
I encourage you to learn as much as you can about the tests that are given in your child’s school. Find out which tests are administered and how the results are used. Give your child an edge by helping them get familiar with the test questions and structure before the test is given at school. You can connect with Carson-Dellosa on their website, Facebook page, or on Twitter.