State-mandated testing for elementary and middle school students isn’t exactly always fun — for the parents or students — but there are ways to make it a little easier.
Hall County and Gainesville City school systems will start Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests on April 16, which is just three days after returning from the spring break holiday.
“Our eighth-grade students must pass reading, language arts and math in order to be promoted to the ninth-grade,” said Audrey Simmons, principal of the Humanities Academy at Gainesville Middle School.
“We need to let parents know that it is very important that the child is present for the test; if they have any scheduling done outside the school with a doctor or whatever to try and see if they can get the dental appointments, orthodontist appointments changed so they will be here for testing,” she said.
“We find that kids do better on the first round of testing, not the make-up, for some reason.”
Gainesville Middle also sent home tips and review materials for parents and children on how to prepare for test day.
“Make sure the child gets plenty of sleep and eats a good breakfast each morning,” Simmons said.
The CRCT is designed to measure how well students are learning the skills and knowledge described in the Georgia Performance Standards and the Quality Core Curriculum. The tests give information on academic achievement at the student, class, school, system and state levels. Then the information is used to diagnose individual student strengths and weaknesses and to gauge the quality of education throughout the state, according to www.doe.k12.ga.us.
Ava White, owner of Ava White Tutorials in Gainesville, said testing so close to the end of spring break has it’s positives and negatives.
“It might be that they are a little rusty and another thing is they might be well rested from spring break and had a chance to relax,” she said. “Also, I think that the parents are going to have to be relaxed and tell (the children) that they’ve got to do the best they can and not put a lot of pressure on them.
“I think the more stress and the more tension the parents feel about the test it is easily communicated to that child and sometimes test anxiety can be their worst enemy.”
White also said plenty of rest is the most important part of test readiness.
“Parents need to make sure kids start getting to bed on time even during spring break,” she said. “They need to be wide awake and alert while that test is being given out. If they are used to going to bed late and getting up late and going to school sleepy, that is going to kill their ability to pay attention to that critical time.”
Megan Thoroman, parent of a fourth-grader at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, said she thing sleep is the best medicine for her son.
“I’m just a firm believer in they just have to get sleep and eat a good breakfast. I know it’s old fashioned, but (that’s when) he always tests really well,” she said of her son, Chance.
Along with rest and good eating habits, there are several helpful Web sites to help get your child ready for the CRCT.
Simmons suggested the Web site www.studyisland.com.
“Anything a child can do, or can use ... for him or her to be successful on the test, use it,” Simmons said. “We are letting our kids know that they can do it, we are focusing on the positive and that’s we want the kids to see. We know they are nervous and there is pressure on now but we have outstanding kids.”
Thoromon suggested the Web site www.brainpop.com and said her son “has been doing that and he likes it. I like it too, actually.”
Both www.studyisland.com and www.brainpop.com have a subscription fee, but the Georgia Department of Education’s Web site has free downloadable practice tests available for grades first through eighth.
But White said to be careful and not force your children to study for long periods of time.
“It’s one of these things that they need to set a kitchen timer and do it for 30 to 40 minutes and stop,” she said. “I would not spend hours and hours on it.”