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Old 08-05-2012, 09:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi everyone, I don't want to get into a debate about whether standardized testing is good or bad or in between.  I just want a good discussion if possible about how to help my son do well on his tests this coming year.  He has to take it so I want to make sure he does his best and is ready for it.  

 

What I was thinking to do is from the beginning of the school year til testing time to purchase Study Island since they have at least state standards and I assume they may be closely aligned with national standards? Is that pretty accurate?   Then I'll create a curriculum to ensure he is competent in the outlined standards. I'd try to finish by March next year so that he can have time to complete some Spectrum work book pages.

 

The school he will be enrolled in does not focus heavily on academics. He is a special kind of school for other kinds of development. They will teach him LA, Math etc but it's not really going to be at a 10 rating kind of school level. So I know ahead of time I have to pick up this slack. We have on his side the fact that he has great vocabulary and reading skills as well as great math skills already. So I'm not terribly worried but there are some areas where he is 'extremely' weak in such as writing.

 

Is Study Island a great resource for making sure we know the standards, have plenty of examples, and practice?  Is there a better resource out there?  

 

I was even thinking to privately buy some k12 courses in Math and LA to kind of use as a guide for supplementing. 

 

Any advice? 


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Old 08-06-2012, 05:23 AM
 
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Is your goal that your son do well on the test, or that he learn what he otherwise isn't learning because his school is focused on other topics?

Our state is starting to implement a minimum reading score for third grade, requiring those failing students repeat 3rd grade. Otherwise, I'm not aware of consequences for the student for how they do on these tests. I therefore have no motivation to really care how my kids do on these tests.

However, there are things that the school doesn't teach that I want my kids to know. I don't use any test prep books, but instead use materials appropriate to the topics I want them to know.
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Old 08-06-2012, 05:45 AM
 
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I think study island is pretty good. When my kids attended a school that was into test scores, the district purchased it and the kids used it at school. I believe there are versions aligned to the standards in specific states. There's really no such animal as national standards.

I don't know that you would need to add much to it. I wouldn't assume that you would need to build a whole curriculum. I think doing too much can burn kids out.

As far as writing, I think the best way to get better at writing is just to write more, but how to encourage my own children to do that has been challenging for me. One of my kids didn't care about spelling until she got into Facebook.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 08-06-2012, 07:05 AM
 
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I suggest checking with the school to see what standardized test kids have to take and if there is a consequence for not scoring high. Our state uses the test to grade teachers more than it does children and the tests only cover reading, language arts, and math so I don't supplement for testing purposes. The school also tests in the fall and spring so they can identify for themselves who needs help and in which area. If your school also tests twice a year on only the basis subjects covered in school I would wait until after the first test to decide in the need for extra work at home.

If there is no consequence I would not do any program unless it was to build up skills if he is behind. If he is behind there may be a program you can get through the school for free, my dd is on Plato for math through our district and it is something I don't have to get involved in too much because it is online and self guided.
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Old 08-06-2012, 08:30 AM
 
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My kids did some Study Island now and then. It was something the school paid for and would occasionally give the kids some sort of reward for completing certain levels. It was pretty painless.

 

Keep reading to him aloud and discuss. I know our state tests include a lot of "what is the best title of this story," "what is this passage about," "what order did these things happen" sort of questions. Getting him used to pulling apart a story in this way will just help him in general through school and is usually quite enjoyable to both child and parent.

 

Don't go to far with the "after-schooling." Remember that state tests are about grading teachers and schools. There are a couple states where there are consequences for the kids but for most, it's not really about THEM as much as how successful a school is in passing the information. Probably the best thing you can do is keep your DS calm and comfortable about the test. Some schools will freak the kids out and they'll come home with all sorts of odd notions about what happens if they "fail." Text anxiety can really pull down a kid's score. I recommend the book "Testing Miss Malarky" as a fun pre-test read. Don't expect great scores the first year. He may do well but lots of really bright and capable kids test lower than their classroom achievement that 1st year do mostly to nerves and inexperience with the format. 


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Old 08-06-2012, 09:15 AM
 
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I agree with the PPs. Mostly, in our school the EOGs are not a make or break deal for the kids. They begin in 3rd grade. They do use them to some extent, though, as measures of proficiency for the individual kids as well as a test for the school as a whole and for the teachers. The tests are graded on a 4 pt scale with 1 being the lowest and 4 being the highest. 3s & 4s "demonstrate proficiency". 1s & 2s do not and kids who score 1s & 2s are given the chance to retake the test and/or go to summer school. It's not a particularly hard test, though, and the vast majority of kids get 3s and 4s the first try with no great extra effort. Unless you have reason to think that your child would not perform well on the EOGs and would consequently be retained or have to go to summer school then I wouldn't do anything extra. I agree with Whatsnextmom that overemphasis on testing can freak some kids out and cause a lot of anxiety. In fact, I think it's already causing you some anxiety. I'd check with your school and see what their policy is regarding testing (do they retain kids if they don't do well enough, or is testing just something they have to do and doesn't really have an impact on the individual kid). 


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Old 08-06-2012, 09:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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wow thank you everyone for all of your input!  I can't tell you how helpful all of your comments are.  

 

The school itself doesn't focus much academically. They provide very basic subject materials as that's not the focus of that school.

 

Last year when he took the SAT 10 we didn't know until later in the year that he would be taking it.  His teacher had First and Second grade in one class and the class total was about 30 between them. She didn't have much time to prepare or even cover the topics that come on the test. In addition to that she doesn't teach for testing. So that's sort of a positive I think. I remember when I found out that he'd have to take a test in 1st grade I was nervous for him and so I bought a Spectrum book and a Study Island subscription for 1st grade. Since the SAT 10 is a national test, the standards are somewhat aligned but being that I'm not a teacher I am not able to really compare the two standards and see the difference. It was just ridiculous to me that First grade has to take a test like that.

 

So as I was going through the questions on Study Island I realized my son didn't know a lot of the material. The teacher had not even gone over what a main idea was. Plus he would skip half the page and not mark an answer. He also did this on his actual SAT 10. I was concerned at the time that he'd do this and it turned out that way. It wasn't as bad as when we were practicing because his teacher would tell them to go back to make sure they marked all answers and check the answers. So I think that helped. 

 

My concern is that he may not have learned what he was supposed to learn very well. I don't think this test measured that though. The scores were really strange, from exceptional level to 20%.  When I give him some exercises to do he's able to do them. But yet when it comes to taking a test, he just doesn't do well.

 

Are you all positive that the tests measure the school/teacher's teaching and not the kid?   Do these tests follow him all through school?  Shouldn't he learn early on how to do well on these tests so that by the time he's in high school he will do well on the SAT/ACT and then on other tests like GRE etc?   This school has only high school til 10th grade. 11th and 12th graders all dual enroll. Since it's a gifted school this is not strange and probably expected that they would be able to do this. 

 

 

Does anyone have experience with k12 Language Arts?  His school doesn't give much homework at all. Would it be horrible of me to buy the k12 LA program for 2nd grade and follow along?  I'm not worried about math because math is just so straightforward.  When I read through the scope of the LA course I really liked it.  The only thing is that there are 180 lessons @ 120 each. So it takes 2 hours a day to complete it. Maybe he'd get it done in less time each session and plus on the weekend he can do an hour Sat/Sun.  The only thing with Study Island is that I think it really just measures how well the child is able to answer questions which encompass the standards, and not a teaching tool, unlike the curriculum. 

 

 

Lastly, is it better for me to read to him or for him to read to me?   I've been reading for me to read aloud to him so that is why I am getting clarification on which is better.


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Old 08-06-2012, 10:25 AM
 
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If you're concerned about how the tests are used, then ask the principal: "How do you use the results of these tests?"

 

I know you don't want a debate on standardized tests, but really this should be your guiding principle.  In what way does it matter, and does it matter to your son and your son's present or future learning?

 

Wildly varying scores across subjects from a student unprepared for the specific subject matter of the test isn't in the slightest bit surprising. 

 

Does he need to learn how to take a standardized test in second grade so that he does well on the SAT in high school?  Personally, I think that a lot of these skills can be learned later, and will come more easily once other skills are taught and he's more developmentally ready. 

 

For us, kids have to change classes in middle school.  So the 5th graders spend a lot of time learning the skills needed to change classes.  Because the 5th graders do all this stuff about learning how to manage themselves for changing classes, the 4th grade teachers introduce a lot of it to prepare the kids for 5th grade.  Well, gee, the 3rd graders really need to prep for 4th grade...  And so on.  DD has been learning skills for middle school since first grade.  It didn't go so well in 1st grade because they weren't applicable nor were they developmentally appropriate.  As she is now heading into 5th grade, I see her ready to learn these skills.

 

I see the same logic here.  You take the PSAT to prep for the SAT.  Well, gee, you should learn to take these tests before the high-stakes PSAT, so you should take the EXPLORE, and so on. 

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Old 08-06-2012, 11:00 AM
 
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I think you need to talk to the folks at your school more. We can't tell you what emphasis your particular school puts on EOGs, but IME our schools put more weight on the child's transcript. I don't think any colleges care about EOGs. I don't think your child's EOG scores necessarily follow him around and drag him down. I'm a little confused about the nature of your child's school since you say it doesn't put much emphasis on academics, but later on you refer to it as a "gifted school". 

 

I live in an area (college town) with a high concentration of gifted students and I've never heard of anyone doing what you're suggesting. 


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Old 08-06-2012, 02:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thank you so much for all of your help.

 

Beanma, I know you've probably not heard of this kind of school. It's religious in nature but much different than other private schools.

 

As long as the testing isn't going to affect him in the future then it's all ok and I don't really mind. I am going to ask the school what kind of weight and bearing these results will have.

 

I just needed to know the more information and viewpoints. This is our first child in school with many more to come so it's all kind of new to us. 

 

You've all be so nice and informative, thank you so much!


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Old 08-06-2012, 08:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aishamama View Post

 

Is Study Island a great resource for making sure we know the standards, have plenty of examples, and practice?  Is there a better resource out there?  

 

I was even thinking to privately buy some k12 courses in Math and LA to kind of use as a guide for supplementing. 

 

Any advice? 

 

Our city puts out practice tests that I think are probably better than any market product (like Study Island). They have some big printable packets that you can do an also a weekly practice in LA and math. This is formatted exactly like the state test and I think preferable to other products. I would also express your interest to your child's school. The want your child to test well and will be more than happy to help you help your child. 


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Old 08-07-2012, 08:31 AM
 
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Some private schools have a different approach to learning and even though the kids may look behind compared to mainstream, after a few years, they catch up in spades. It can be difficult to know what is really going on with a child and if they are catching on to everything they should.

Do you see your son learning and thriving? How does his teacher feel about his progress on the things they work on? Does he seem to be doing ok compared to his peers?

Some skills, such as language arts skills, are repeated over and over in elementary skill.

Also, if part or all of his education is in another language, that can cause English skills to look behind kids who are only being educated in English. But kids being educated bi-lingually or in a second language end up doing fine in English in the long run.

I think there is a difference between working on test taking skills and working on learning content.

On the reading aloud vs. Listening to children read, I think that both are good and have value. My kids found reading aloud to be tiring at that age, so they would read a little, and then I would a chapter of a book. I kept reading out loud to them for years, often picking books that were a little above their reading level.

How does it work if you try to read to all your children at the same time? Reading out loud was just part of our evening routine, but my kids are closer in age, which may have made it easier.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 08-07-2012, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Some private schools have a different approach to learning and even though the kids may look behind compared to mainstream, after a few years, they catch up in spades. It can be difficult to know what is really going on with a child and if they are catching on to everything they should.
Do you see your son learning and thriving? How does his teacher feel about his progress on the things they work on? Does he seem to be doing ok compared to his peers?
Some skills, such as language arts skills, are repeated over and over in elementary skill.
Also, if part or all of his education is in another language, that can cause English skills to look behind kids who are only being educated in English. But kids being educated bi-lingually or in a second language end up doing fine in English in the long run.
I think there is a difference between working on test taking skills and working on learning content.
On the reading aloud vs. Listening to children read, I think that both are good and have value. My kids found reading aloud to be tiring at that age, so they would read a little, and then I would a chapter of a book. I kept reading out loud to them for years, often picking books that were a little above their reading level.
How does it work if you try to read to all your children at the same time? Reading out loud was just part of our evening routine, but my kids are closer in age, which may have made it easier.

 

Thank you so much for your comments. They are much appreciated. Let's hope for a good year and one where he feels very confident and happy. He is learning and thriving. Despite my concerns about some gaps in learning, overall he's ahead of his peers. His tests didn't reflect that. 

 

I love reading to the kids. DS loves to do our circle time too. Sometimes the 4 y/o leads circle time with Ds1's First grade books. It is a little bit hard because they are so close in age, 6, 4, 2, 13m but we manage some days, otherwise I read individually with them. They love to do the reading and being read to because of my story telling voices =) 


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