Parents Can Help Students Perform Successfully on Standardized Tests
Simple Strategies to Enhance Test Performance
February 15, 2013
More and more, student performance is being measured by a child's ability to perform well on a standardized test. While there are a myriad of ways student performance can be evaluated, legislators and state/federal officials seem to rely most directly on test scores to evaluate student mastery of academic skills.
Since test scores have become such an important barometer in evaluating student performance, every effort should be made to maximize student results on these critically important tests. By implementing some simple strategies for improving performance, parents can help students perform successfully on standardized tests.
Standardized tests are designed to measure reading comprehension. Traditionally, standardized test writers rely on evaluating the child's ability to find the main idea of a passage when evaluating a child's ability to comprehend text. Parents can use a newspaper to help the child enhance his/her ability to determine the main idea of a passage. Parents can cut out newspaper articles that appeal to a child's interests. The article's headline should be removed from the body of the article. The child should be asked to read the article and to create his/her own title that summarizes the main idea of the passage. If the parent cuts out a series of articles, the child can read each of the articles and match the headlines that have been cut from the passage to the article that it fits most directly.
Increasingly, students are being asked to read and comprehend nonfiction/informational texts. Nonfiction can be used as a tool for enhancing standardized test performance. Parents and librarians can help the child to select nonfiction reading materials that appeal to the child's interests and ability level. Following the reading of nonfiction text, the child can tell the main idea of the story, chapter, or paragraph.
Fluency is the speed/smoothness at which a child reads and comprehends the meaning of the text. Since many of the standardized tests are timed, it is important that students can read and comprehend text at an appropriate speed. Parents can help students improve reading rates by scheduling daily reading time. Research indicates reading speed is more likely to improve when reading is practiced on a daily basis. Students should be encouraged to read silently and aloud.
Students with highly developed vocabularies tend to perform better on standardized tests than children who do not have a vast vocabulary repertoire. Children should be challenged to learn new words every day. Parents can help to stimulate an interest in new word acquisition by making the introduction of new words a daily family activity.
While improving test performance is critically important in the academic setting, the real beauty of implementing the strategies listed above will be seen in the lives of the students themselves. As comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary improve and grow, reading becomes a more rewarding and fulfilling activity that students can utilize effectively throughout their lifetimes.