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Making the Most of Standardized Tests

Odds are your child will have to take at least one standardized test each academic year and, considering the bills in the U.S. Congress, standardized tests will become high-stakes tests. A high-stakes test is a standardized test tied to a major education decision, such as whether a student will advance to the next grade, enter a preferred program, or receive a high school diploma. High-stakes tests could also be tied to district or school funding, and teachers' and administrators' salaries.

Whether or not you find a particular standardized test appropriate, your child still needs to perform at his or her best. Consider the following test-taking suggestions from the U.S. Department of Education's Educational Resources Information Center on Assessment and Evaluation:

  • Talk to your child's teacher often to monitor his or her progress and to find out what activities you can do at home that may help your child's test performance.
  • Be aware of your child's test performance and be sure that you can interpret the results when they become available.
  • Make sure your child is well-rested and eats a well-rounded diet.
  • Encourage your child to listen carefully to test-taking directions and ask questions about any instructions that are unclear.
  • Don't be overly anxious about test scores, but encourage your child to take tests seriously.
  • Tell your child that the best way to prepare for tests -- whether they're teacher-made or standardized -- is to study and know the subjects.

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