Spring has arrived, which means we’re already nearing the end of another school year in Arizona. It’s time to measure what students have learned and if they are on track and prepared for the next step in their education. This year, Arizona students will be taking a brand new test, called AzMERIT.
Think of the test as an academic checkup. Just as you would want your doctor to share an honest assessment of your child’s health, AzMERIT will give you the most accurate information about your child’s academic ability.
We know that taking tests can be stressful and students can experience every emotion from panic to apathy. It is important your child is mentally and physically prepared and there are simple ways to alleviate anxiety and stress.
Teachers are an excellence resource for details about the skills your child has been working on this school year and what support you can give your child at home to help him prepare for the test.
2. Reinforce Critical Thinking Skills
Your child has been preparing for the new test since the school year began. All of her projects, assignments and discussions have reinforced critical thinking and problem-solving skills. However, you can reinforce those skills at home by reading with your child and asking her to talk about the central idea or theme of book or article. Ask her to explain something she has written. Have her explain the steps she took to solve a math problem.
3. Practice At Home
You can support your child by learning about the skills being assessed on the test, as well as what sample questions might look like and talking with him about it. If your child will be taking the test on a computer, it would useful to go through some sample questions so he is familiar with the platform.
4. Keep Track of Test Days
If you know when the tests are coming, you can make sure other activities are kept to a minimum. Ensure school takes priority over practices, appointments and trips.
5. Serve a Healthy Breakfast
Research has shown the impact eating breakfast has on academic performance. Focus on foods that are healthy and a good source of energy, like eggs and whole grain toast, or oatmeal packed with fruit and nuts. Less healthy choices such as donuts and sugary drinks can leave your child feeling tired and hungry just an hour or two later. A nutritious breakfast will help her stay focused and alert.
6. Safeguard Sleep
Make sure your child gets enough sleep the night before exams and in the days leading up to tests. Enforce a “tech curfew” – no phones, tablets, video games, or TV for 30 minutes prior to bedtime. This will help him wind down and prepare to get a good night’s rest.
7. Don’t Stress
Your stress can carry over to your child. By keeping your own stress levels down, you can help her succeed. Try to emphasize to your child that she doesn’t have to be perfect, and that you’ll support her no matter what.
8. Stay Positive
Your child can be influenced by your reaction to testing time. Give him a positive send-off in the morning and tell him he has the needed skills, he just needs to relax and pace himself.
Remember, AzMERIT and other standardized tests are not the finish line. They simply serve as check points along every child’s educational journey. With very few exceptions, testing results should be used to determine areas of strength and weakness so students can monitor and adjust. Set goals for any skills that need work and celebrate when your child reaches each goal.
To learn more about the test and what your child needs to know to be successful, visit ArizonaAimsHigher.org/AzMERIT.