State testing is required by both state and federal law. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, better known as PARCC is the state assessment and accountability measure for Illinois students enrolled in a public school district. PARCC assesses the New Illinois Learning Standards and will be administered to grades 3-8 in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Tests are administered so families know how their child is progressing toward college and career readiness and for districts to know if the curriculum they’ve chosen teach their students to the state learning standards is working, or if they should make adjustments. In Episode 10, Amy Van Hoose, Laura Michael, and Keri Roberts explain the tests, how the district uses them, and how you can help make sure your child is ready.
Laura Michael is a Triad graduate (2006). She went on to earn her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from SIUE in 2010. She has taught 4th grade at Henning Elementary for 3 years. Prior to this, she worked as an aide in Special Education in various buildings in the district. She lives in Wood River, IL. She and her husband Ben love spending family time together with their son, August, and their dog, Darcy. Laura has a passion for the outdoors, music, and all things Harry Potter.
Keri Roberts graduated from SIUe in 2015 and began her teaching career with Triad School District the same year. She has taught 4th grade at Henning Elementary for 3 years. She recently got married and moved to Edwardsville, Illinois. Keri is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction through Eastern Illinois University. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends in her free time.
We know that every teacher is different, what are some things that teachers do to help prepare students for the test?
- Many of the day to day activities in a classroom help students prepare for PARCC.
- Students practice on IXL for math and language arts in order to practice specific skills and are often similar to the multiple choice questions.
- Teachers do a lot with rereading and highlighting in the daily practice that is often seen on PARCC.
- Teachers often number the paragraph or line too to help kids get used to being specific when supporting their answers.
- Technology is used in the classrooms for teachers to use for typing and reading online.
- PARCC includes extended response questions for both math and English language arts. Students are asked to write out an explanation of their thinking in math or a short essay to a prompt in language arts. Teachers practice math explanations and steps to answer a question along with responses to reading throughout the year.
- PARCC is timed so teachers talk about managing time during a standardized test.
- Teachers help prepare students for PARCC with a practice test where students will get a chance to practice with the questions and the tools. For example: There is a flag feature on PARCC and teachers have taught students how to flag a response and come back to that question with additional time. Another example is if the question is multiple choice, teachers have taught process of elimination.
What can parents say to their child before they take the test?
- Encourage your child to take their time and do their best work
- There is no reason to be nervous. That only makes the test harder.
- Answer every question – your child may not know an answer, but they should try and make their best guess. You can get partial credit for questions that aren’t multiple choice.
- Be excited for your child to show what they know and offer positive reinforcement.
How can parents help prepare that day of the test?
- If there is ever a week to make sure you get sleep it’s PARCC week!
- Eat breakfast
- Wear comfy clothes
- Arrive to school on time
- Don’t schedule appointments during testing time
How does testing help teachers and our district?
- Annual testing provides teachers with a great deal of information. For example, overall poor results could indicate that the curriculum needs to be reviewed and aligned with the content upon which state standards are based; poor results could also mean that teachers need to modify their instructional methods.
- Test results could also help teachers to clarify those areas in which they may need professional development.
- Finally, teachers gain a great deal of information about the performance of individual students that enables them to meet the particular needs of every child.
- Schools and teachers also use the data from year to year to track our strengths and areas to improve. For example, this year each grade level at each school made an action plan based on last year’s results. Many grades chose to focus on measurement because that was an area where we were low as a district.
| Testing Miss Malarkey by Judy Finchler and Kevin O’Malley
State testing often causes some pretty strange behavior in adults, and this can be quite confusing to students. This story pokes fun at the commotion surrounding standardized testing, a staple of every school’s year.
|The Anti-Test Anxiety Society by Julia Cook
Bertha Billingsworth (BB for short) is basically a happy person until she has to take a test. To her, the word test stands for “Terrible Every Single Time,” because that’s how she does on them: TERRIBLE! BB’s teacher comes to the rescue by inviting her to become a member of the Anti-Test Anxiety Society.
|The Big Test by Julia Danneberg
Mrs. Hartwell is preparing her class to take the Big Test. Knowing they have studied and are well-prepared, she helps the students practice how to sit quietly, fill in the bubbles, and follow the directions. She even instructs them on proper morning-of-the-test nutrition. As her students grow increasingly anxious about the Big Test, Mrs. Hartwell realizes she has to teach the most valuable test-taking skill of all: learning to relax!
|Outsmart Test Anxiety by Erainna Winnett
This is fun a workbook meant to help kids who struggle with test anxiety. Through therapeutic art and writing exercise, kids can get their feelings out, process and learn to conquer their anxiety, learn strategies for studying and test-taking, and boost self-esteem.
|Mathsketball: A Story of Test Anxiety by Erainna Winnett
Ethan excels in almost every subject, except math. When it comes to test time, the numbers turn into some kind of alien language. His best friend, Jack helps him to relax by playing a quick game of mathsketball. And with help from his teacher, learns to take his mad mathsketball skills into the classroom and learn to overcome his test anxiety.
|Study Smart Junior: Studying your way to Stardom by Chris Kensler
Being prepared for a test is an effective way to overcome test anxiety. In this story, young Babette and her friends learn good study habits, test preparation skills, how to take notes, and more!