It is finally spring in Michigan, which, in the education world, means it is testing season. Starting April 8, the official testing window opens for the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, also known as the M-STEP. When we were students, this is what we might remember as the “MEAP.”
M-STEP evaluates students’ academic progress in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies, and this and/or another “high stakes” assessment called the PSAT is delivered to students in grades third through tenth. In addition to the M-STEP, eleventh graders in Michigan will be taking the SAT and the ACT WorkKeys exams, as well.
As parents, this testing season can seem really intense. There can be a lot of pressure put on kids from schools, and a lot of misconceptions about the results of the test. I distinctly remember a third grade student during my first year of teaching, crying because he was so nervous. He had convinced himself that if he did not do well on the test (it was MEAP at the time), he would fail third grade. Twelve years later, this moment has still stuck with me. It really is our jobs as parents and teachers to help students feel ready and relaxed before the test.
How you can help before testing begins
Check with your child’s teacher about the testing schedule.
Knowing when a test is happening can help ease a child’s mindset and allows you the opportunity to give them an extra “You got this!” before school drop-off.
Ask the teacher about any skills websites or work your child can do to help master facts.
For example, my son has multiplication flash cards we have to master before testing hits! Reading for information and non-fiction is hugely important, too.
Does your child freeze up during testing? Help them by participating in online practice sites.
Check with your child’s teacher for the best links or accounts they have created at school.
How you can help on the day of testing
Make sure your child gets enough sleep.
This may sound cliche, but a good night’s sleep can make all the difference! You don’t want them to fall asleep during the test.
Make sure your child has a good breakfast.
It is so hard for these kiddos to focus on an empty stomach. Protein-rich breakfasts are the best options. Peanut butter toast, eggs, parfait with Greek yogurt, etc. are great examples.
Boost them up!
Remind them they are not the test! Be calm but positive about the test. This test will not define them. If they see their parents calm about the test, they will be, too.