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Test Success

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It’s testing “season” again, so I thought it might be helpful to review what’s expected and how you can help your student be most successful.

First, why do we do all this testing? The HSPE (high school proficiency exam), administered March 12, 13, and 14th, is a state-mandated assessment of our students’ skills in reading and writing. All 10th graders take the test and passing it is a graduation requirement. If the student doesn’t pass this year, he/she has at least 4 other opportunities.

To maximize their chances to pass, students need to take the test seriously, get a decent nights’ sleep, eat a nutritious breakfast, and give it their all! Here are some things you can do to help them do their best.

Do not make appointments on these testing days. If you need to reschedule, call now and set a new appointment. There is no make-up for the HSPE; if a student is absent, the next opportunity to take the test is during the summer, which can be complicated.

For at least 2 weeks preceding the test, “guide” your sophomore into going to bed earlier, eating better, and practicing some stress/anxiety relievers. While getting a good night’s sleep the night before the test is definitely helpful, having the habit beforehand is much better.

Preferably several days before, but definitely the day of, make sure your student eats a decent breakfast. Syrup and sugar should be minimized. Fruit and proteins should be encouraged. Some schools offer snacks during breaks in testing, but we can’t depend on that.

Talk to your student about this kind of “high stakes” testing. Try not to talk about passing or failing. Rather, talk about trying their hardest, doing their best, completely reading passages (as opposed to skimming), and not panicking if they don’t know an answer. There will be things they don’t know.

This isn’t a test you can study for because it measures things students have worked on for 10 years—reading comprehension, inference, main idea, theme, drawing conclusions, and writing narrative and persuasive essays. However, you can remind them to use certain strategies – process of elimination, for example, in reading and creating an outline in writing.

Finally, no matter what your feelings are about this kind of testing, do not say negative things in front of your children. They tend to take statements like, “A test shouldn’t determine who graduates,” or “Some students are just bad test-takers” as reasons not to try. As long as these tests are mandated, we need to help our kids be as successful as possible.