“Big Picture” Tests
It’s not unusual to test students on their ability to retain and apply material covered in class, but changing education standards have led to numerous state tests designed to help schools capture the “big picture” in students’ performance.
At the elementary and middle school level, all New York State students in grades 3-8 take standardized tests in math and English language arts (ELA). Both exams are typically held in the spring. Click here for the schedule. Those exams began testing students on both new knowledge and new skill sets in 2013 based on the new federal Common Core Learning Standards. There are a number of resources available to help parents better understand the changes in curriculum.
There are also statewide science tests for students in grades 4 and 8, which are typically held after the math and ELA exams. At the high school level, students take NYS Regents exams in a variety of subjects in January and June.
State tests at all grade levels provide officials, administrators, and parents with an overall picture of student performance across the state. The results also help schools determine an individual student’s academic strengths and weaknesses. Though testing does not fully reflect a student’s capabilities, it can help teachers and parents work together to maximize the benefits the student receives from his/her education.
If your child(ren) seems especially nervous about tests:
- Offer words of encouragement, and practice stress-relieving exercises together, such as deep breathing or shoulder shrugs.
- Try to keep your talk about tests casual and non-confrontational.
- Meet with teachers or a guidance counselor to discuss your child’s progress and activities to do at home to help prepare for tests.
- Stay well-informed about your child’s tests. Many state testing dates are listed in the district calendar, and you can call a school principal or guidance office for more information.
- Know how different test results are used, and how they will affect your child’s placement in school. Teachers and guidance counselors are great information sources.
- Let your child know that you will be proud of the test results as long as his/her best effort was put forth.
Before important tests, make sure your child:
- Gets a good night’s sleep.
- Eats a wholesome breakfast.
- Dresses comfortably.
- Arrives at school on time.
- Has all necessary materials (e.g., pen, pencil, eraser, calculator).
- Avoids stressful situations (such as arguments) prior to testing.