Get Ready! For Standardized Tests by Shirley Vickery

Get Ready! For Standardized Tests

byShirley Vickery

Paperback | August 3, 2000

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With standardized, state-mandated testing starting as early as the first grade and continuing through high school, parents are concerned that theirchildren may not be able to perform at grade level. Developed by professionals, here is the first and only grade-specific test preparation series geared toward parent and child, including expert tips for optimizing children's test performances. Features: Information on how schools use standardized tests Explanations of the types of questions found on standardized tests Practice sections on necessary verbal and mathskills Exercises, drills, and a full-length sample test with answers explained

About The Author

Shirley Vickery, author of "Get Ready" Grade 6, has had 23 years experience providing psychological services to public school students. She is the current president of the South Carolina Academy of Professional Psychologists.Carol Turkington, Series Editor, specializes in developmental psychology. Her articles on parenting and health h...

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Title:Get Ready! For Standardized TestsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:10.63 × 8 × 0.68 inPublished:August 3, 2000

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0071360158

ISBN - 13:9780071360159

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Chapter1Test-Taking Basics Parents everywhere are hearing aboutthe importance of standardized testing to their students’ academic performanceand record. Sixth grade is a year when the testing demands for students seem toincrease. Many states don’t test younger students, and others only begin to usethe results for serious purposes when students get to sixth grade. Test scoresare used in a variety of ways in different districts, but many schools usetests to determine the need for more tutoring or for summer school, or todetermine promotion to the next grade. They also may be used to identifystudents for gifted and talented programs. As a result, the standardizedtesting process may provoke anxiety for students and parents alike.Wehope that this chapter will ease some of that anxiety by giving students andparents an idea of what to expect and how to prepare for the testing process ingeneral. How Parents Can HelpWheredo you start if you want to work with your sixth grader to prepare for standardizedtests? In general, you should remember that your child may be turned off orunmotivated by testing.Studentswho are weak in academic skills may be very nervous and insecure about thetesting process and may resist the efforts of their parents to help them.Parents who are frustrated with the process and with their children may onlycompound the problems by increasing the child’s frustration level with bothschool and testing.It’simportant that resistance doesn’t become a habit for your child. In order toavoid this, try to remember: ·   Youcan’t improve test scores overnight.·    Testscores are the result of work done all year long, not just the few weeks beforethe test.·   Studentsdo best on tests when they are somewhat concerned and motivated, but not soanxious that they have trouble concentrating.·    Astudent’s level of anxiety about a situation is usually directly related toyour own concern.·   Thework assigned in school should directly relate to skills tested on theend-of-the-year assessment. Therefore, students should place a high priority ondoing assigned homework and schoolwork, following the instruction in class,studying for tests, and reviewing assignments.·    Studentswho do well in their daily work usually do well in standardized testing.·   Some students who do well in daily work don’t dowell in standardized testing. This often frustrates parents and students alike.These students may very well be helped by the suggestions found in this book. Testsare different from daily assignments in that they present different skills onthe same page. Skills are intermixed on the page and students are expected toshift from skill to skill without warning. In class, students may receivepractice on one or a few skills at a time. It’s much harder to take a test whenitems of different kinds are mixed on the same page.It’simportant to prepare your child to consider that he will encounter some itemson standardized tests that he’s never seen before and hasn’t been taught. Thispractice of providing some “ceiling” or upper limit for the test actuallyallows the test to measure the limits of a child’s knowledge. While somestudents may see this as a frustrating part of the test, all tests of thisnature have some items almost no one gets right. It’s a predictable part of theprocess. Students who realize that they won’t know the answers to all questionsusually feel better about the testing process in general.The Sixth Grader’s DevelopmentSixthgraders are typically between 11 and 12 years old and at some stage of beginningadolescence. This is an exciting time of great development—physically,socially, and mentally. Parents are often frustrated with the changes they seein their adolescents, and it’s easy to understand why. In order to understandthe implications these changes have for your child’s thinking skills, you needto start thinking about your child in different ways, and to work with him as abudding adult rather than as a child. That is no small task!Let’slook at a few of the important characteristics of a sixth grader’s thinking andhow they affect school and standardized testing. AbstractReasoning SkillsSixthgraders start relying more on their ability to use abstract reasoning skills.Someone who thinks abstractly looks beyond the information right in front ofhim and reasons on a wider level. Most of the time, adults rely mostly onconcrete reasoning skills: We turn on a TV or start a car and we don’t thinkabout how they work. If a machine doesn’t work when we try to turn it on, wemay try a second time, but eventually we call a repairperson rather than try tofigure it out ourselves. When we think abstractly, we think about the way themachine works and make guesses about how to repair it. We develop explanationsfor the problem.Sixthgraders are just beginning to develop this abstract ability to take themselvesaway from the specifics of a situation and guess what the situation means.Sixth-grade teachers can often capture the attention of their students byasking questions like:“What does this mean?”“How does this work?”“How can this be done?”Theability to reason on a higher level will eventually lead sixth graders towonder about more complicated questions that have no easy answers. Questions ofa social, ethical, or religious nature may occupy some adolescents in veryintense ways. They may spend hours pondering who they are, when parents andteachers may wish they would get busy with assigned work! CreativitySixthgraders may think very creatively and have boundless energy for composing, writing,designing, or drawing. The products may not be quite so refined as they will bein a few more years, but the sheer joy of developing and planning may beexhilarating to children this age. This creativity can lead to beautifulpoetry, music, or stories that contain hints of the complex thinkingadolescents are beginning to do.Whathappens to creativity at home and at school? You should be aware of yourchild’s need to express his boundless creativity and try to find ways tochannel it into learning activities. If creativity is quashed, the student maybecome less motivated and may begin to see school as a very boring place whereno new ideas or suggestions are tolerated. Students may develop similarfeelings about their parents’ help. How You Can Help Your ChildYou can help to boostyour child’s motivation and provide outlets for that creativity in many ways:·    Praiseyour child’s writing and allow him to share it or not as he wishes.·    Listento ideas and relate them to other information you’ve learned or discussed.·    Relatespecific academic material covered in school to your child’s ideas.·    Helpyour child find special classes in art, music, or composition; you may need tolook outside school for some classes.·    Allowyour child to explore different methods of expression without expectingperfection.·    Listento your child’s favorite music and discuss with him what he likes about it. Needfor Autonomy. Your sixth grader may begin to express opinions thatare different from yours and will often question your expectations and limits.This certainly impacts school performance, since your child may decide he wantsto make the decisions about what he learns and how he spends his time. Yourchild may be less willing to respond to schedules and structures you select.Thiscan make preparing for standardized tests particularly difficult. Your childmay resist your efforts to improve his school performance because he sees thisas his responsibility. Your child may especially dislike having you decidewhich topics he needs to review or practice.Forthese reasons, it’s most helpful if you can avoid focusing on specific skillreviews and drills. That’s why we won’t try to teach you how to conducteducational drills with your child.Instead,we’ll point out ways you can prepare your child for schoolwork and testing bynoticing the academic nature of various activities and by encouraging studentsto solve problems. When you help your child learn to solve problems dealingwith everyday events, he will see the need for academic skills and will be morelikely to master them. Remember, when students practice in the real world, theyremember the skills much better than when all practice is in textbooks.Thisidea is so important that it deserves a few minutes of focus before we move on.Parents can do a number of things with their children—everything from buyingand cooking food to participating in Scouts and athletics—to provide importantopportunities for academic skill development. These activities are examples ofthe kinds of problems your child will face in the future, and offer a host ofpossibilities for work in math and reading. The list includes: ·    shopping·    cooking·    planninga vacation·    budgeting·    repairinga toilet·    plantingshrubs·    growingvegetables·   deciding which new carto buy Yoursixth grader will be more motivated to work with you on testing material if hesees it as interesting or social. Here are some tips to make these activitiesfun: Goshopping.Several sixth grade students may enjoy a shopping trip. Give your child abudget and ask that he and his friends make suggestions on how to spend themoney by focusing on finding the best buys on clothing. Planparty time.Don’t just throw your child a party. Involve him! Turn it into a lesson inmanagement and math by having your sixth grader and his friends plan the numberof items needed, the food to be served, the items to be bought, and the budgetfor the party. Usesports. Agroup of sixth graders can follow a sports team together and compare statisticsas the team progresses through the season. Gocamping. If your child likes camping, have him plan whatsupplies are needed, shop for the items, locate appropriate recipes, and adjustthe recipes for the number of people attending the trip. Obviously,the list could go on and on. While these things may not seem like traditional“schoolwork,” in fact students need to practice what they learn in a meaningfulcontext or in some real-life situation. Your child will get the most out of anylearning situation when he is doing something related to the learning, not justreading a book or participating in a discussion.Finally,your child will learn better when he practices for small amounts at a time overseveral days, rather than cramming for hours the night before a test. TheSocial Side of Thinking. It may not seem so, but your child’s sociallife does have an effect on his thinking ability. Any sixth-grade teacher willtell you that the most important thing to a child of this age is his sociallife. Sixth graders are starting to become extremely attached to and influencedby their peers. They’re interested in what other students their age are doing,and they are motivated by things of interest to other students and tothemselves.Insome cases, students may become self-conscious about “being smart” and may notwant to perform well on tests. Some sixth graders may not like to callattention to themselves as “the brain.” If this is happening to your child,you’ll have to work hard to overcome this feeling. Here’s how:·    Askteachers to offer incentives for work well done.·    Developan incentive system for your child featuring music, free time, or time withfriends.·    Developa sense of self-confidence in your child.·    Encourageyour child to invite friends over for study time.·    Plana fun outing that involves some of the skill areas your child needs help with,and allow your child to invite a friend along.·    Checkout videos that develop some of the same interests and skills, and invite friends to watch, too. What the Tests May AskTests for sixthgraders are usually somewhat different from tests for younger children. They’renot just harder, but the style and format of the tests may be different aswell. These differences include smaller print, the use of embeddedinstructions, longer time limits, larger written passages, increased abstractthinking, and more open-ended questions. SmallerPrintSixth graders areaccustomed to smaller print in textbooks and lessons, so the smaller print onthe tests shouldn’t be a problem for anyone except those with poor vision.Students should be certain to bring glasses or contacts with them to thetesting session. Be sure to obtain correct lenses for your child long beforetesting day, so he can become used to the lenses before the testing periodbegins. LongerTime LimitsSixth graders areexpected to work for longer periods of time without receiving directions orbreaks. Your child may routinely work without stopping for 45 minutes orlonger. Those who typically need lots of breaks to complete their work may findthis aspect of testing somewhat difficult and should begin to preparethemselves for longer work periods without help. If your child has a problemwith longer work periods, have him wear a wristwatch to remind him how muchtime is left. He can also practice working on homework for longer periodswithout asking for help or taking a break. EmbeddedInstructionsInstructionsfor many tests are given at the beginning of the session. In tests for youngerstudents, these instructions apply to the entire session until the teachergives another set of instructions.However,in sixth grade, tests often have new directions that the student is expected toread independently and to apply to the next set of questions. An adult won’tintervene to help him understand. If your child is used to having an adult talkhim through directions, he may have trouble with this independent format.Toprepare for this, have your child practice reading directions on homework byhimself before asking for help. He should also reread the directions, thinkthem through step by step, and pick out key words. This skill is very importantand is discussed in more detail. LongerWritten PassagesYoursixth grader will be expected to have a longer attention span for reading andwriting. He’ll have to read several pages at a time without taking a break.With smaller print and the lack of pictures, the amount of reading mayintimidate many students.It’simportant to remember that your child will be expected to review the passage tofind answers. You can help your child deal with this situation by teaching himto scan the material and questions before reading, and to focus on reading oneparagraph at a time. MoreQuestions Requiring Abstract ReasoningBecause sixth graders are better at abstractreasoning than younger students, test makers add questions requiring studentsto infer meanings, draw conclusions, apply data to another situation, or makepredictions about what may happen in the future. Open-Ended(Not Multiple-Choice) QuestionsThis is an important new development intesting and one that is becoming increasingly prevalent on newer tests. It’shard to prepare fully for this format because it’s relatively new, but you andyour child should be aware of the format and begin practicing. These kinds ofquestions will be encountered in real-life academic tasks (and real-lifeexamples don’t always come in multiple-choices!). Test-Taking Skills Your Child NeedsYou can help yoursixth grader improve his test-taking skills by helping him learn to followdirections, pay attention for longer periods of time, fill in an answer sheetcorrectly, use the information available, budget time, and develop a system ofchecking answers.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Test-Taking Basics.

Chapter 2: Vocabulary.

Chapter 3: Reading Comprehension.

Chapter 4: Language Mechanics.

Chapter 5: Language Expression.

Chapter 6: Spelling and Study Skills.

Chapter 7: Math Concepts.

Chapter 8: Math Computation.

Chapter 9: Math Applications.

Sample Practice Test.

Student Answer Sheet.



Answer Key.