May is state testing time for third, fourth and fifth graders – a time that can be stressful for students and parents alike. To help parents support their children throughout the testing period, Ridgeway Elementary School, Manchester Township, held a NJ ASK Open House for Parents. About 80 parents attended at different times throughout the day to get a better understanding of the testing process and learn ways to help their children prepare for the tests.
Ridgeway’s NJ ASK team, consisting of Literacy Coach Linda Saraceno and teachers Jill Moore, Elaine Pate, Pat Clayton, Geri DiMarco, Noreen Donovan and Linda Scharibone, put together the program and presented it. They described the testing process in detail and gave parents sample tests. They talked about the importance of reading all the questions carefully, showing work on math problems when asked, planning out writing assignments, and, of course, filling in those ovals properly.
The teachers spoke about some of things their child will experience on testing day. The classroom looks completely different. The desks are all in rows and separated, not in groups like they are used to. Everything on the walls – like vocabulary words, writing prompts, and maps – is covered up or taken down. The teacher must read from a script and can only say certain things. The younger children don’t understand why the teacher can’t help them like she/he usually does. All of the test segments are timed, putting additional pressure on students.
That is why it is important for parents to do whatever they can to prepare their child for testing and to reduce their anxiety, and the presenters gave plenty of advice for doing that.
Some of their suggestions are below and more information is included a brochure they created for the workshop.
On test days, make the morning as calm and relaxed as possible:
- Pick out clothes and pack the backpack the night before
- Make sure your child has a good breakfast.
- Make sure they have a good night’s sleep.
Students who are late cannot take the test that day – they will have to wait until the make-up day.
Ways to help your child at home:
- Encourage reading.
- Your child should read for at least 20 minutes a day
- Talk with your child about what they read. Ask questions.
- Provide all kinds of print materials – nonfiction and fiction books, magazines, etc.
- Encourage your child to write, using the process of Plan/Write/Proof.
- Try to expand their vocabulary, including math and science terms.
- Use money with your child so they know the denominations and values.
- Get an analog clock and practice time concepts.
- Practice measuring with a ruler.
- Use cooking to practice fractions.
The NJ ASK test will be administered to all third, fourth and fifth graders in Manchester throughout the week of May 7-11.