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Preparing for the "Big Exam"

Missouri students in grades 3-8 will take grade-level assessments which are part of the Missouri Assessment Program. Many districts also conduct kindergarten screenings and other assessments to measure achievement or growth at the end of the school year. While the content of the assessment has been taught in the classroom, there are many other ways students need to be ready to test. Due to the increased pressure for schools to improve scores, this pressure is inadvertently passed on to the students. Reducing stress is one way parents can help children.

Ways to lower stress in children:

Find out the exact dates for your child's testing. Every school has designated times to test. By knowing when your child is testing, you can eliminate extra activities in the evenings during the testing window. The official testing window for the Grade-Level Assessments is from March 28- April 29 (an extension was made due to the inclement weather in February).

Look at the released items from the MAP. If you have a sense of how the questions are asked, you can go over the language of the test prior to the assessment. Plus, you can debrief with your child each day of the testing in order to let them reflect on how it went.

Reinforce effort. By this time, all the preparation and instruction is over. Positive attitude and effort are what will help your child excel on the assessment. Keep the before school routine simple and low-key, then find something fun to do after school to reward your child’s positive attitude.

Don’t forget the basics- the brain operates better on a full stomach. Make an extra effort to prepare a healthy breakfast and send a piece of fruit with your child. This makes quick energy and refuels the brain after testing. Be sure to find out if sending a snack is permissible with your child’s school.

Be proud of your child. This testing marks the “beginning of the end” of another school year. Celebrate the growth your child has made during this year- maybe they have overcome something particularly challenging. This can be a time to reflect on the entire school year and remind your child of all the gains made.

For more information about test anxiety, check out these resources:

On the Web
Test Anxiety Tips
Tips for reducing test anxiety during the test from West Virginia University
Preparation, Tips, and Anxiety from Penn State University Learning Center

Books from the shelves at the Library:
Beat stress! The exam handbook  by Anita Naik
Overcoming school anxiety : how to help your child deal with separation, tests, homework, bullies, math phobia, and other worries by Diane Peters Mayer
It's test day, Tiger Turcotte by Pansie Hart Flood
Test anxiety & what you can do about it : a practical guide for teachers, parents, and kids by Joseph Casbarro

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