Special to The Sun
In April many Oklahoma children take a series of educational tests to determine how well they are learning the material taught in the classroom. Throughout the month, school-age children may take one or more Oklahoma Core Curriculum Tests (OCCT), and it’s important for parents to take an active role in helping their children prepare.
“These tests provide parents and teachers with an important roadmap of how their students are progressing,” said Brian Hunt, executive director of Stand for Children Oklahoma, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that every child has the support and tools they need to succeed. “It’s important for parents to be their child’s biggest advocate, providing plenty of positive encouragement at home.”
Oklahoma uses OCCT to test students in grades three through eight in reading and math. Students in grade five also are tested in writing, science and social studies. Students in grade seven are tested in geography, and students in grade eight are tested in writing, science and U.S. history.
Also, high schools students are required to take OCCT End-of-Instruction (EOI) tests in Algebra I, Algebra II, Biology I, English II, English III, geometry and U.S. history upon completion of each course in order to graduate. While students are not required to achieve a certain score, OCCT EOI results are reported on their high school transcripts. Students are given the opportunity to retake the tests on one occasion prior to graduation.
Stand for Children Oklahoma offers the following tips to help children prepare for standardized testing and perform their best:
Before the Test
• Talk about testing — It’s helpful for your child to understand why schools give standardized tests and why it is important for their future.
• Encourage your child — Praise your child for the things they do well. If your child feels good about themselves, they will have more confidence when taking the test. Children who become anxious when taking tests and who are afraid of failing are more likely to make mistakes.
• Meet with your child’s teacher — Discuss the test with your child’s teacher, clarify the dates of the tests and ask the teacher for any activities that you and your child can do at home that would help them prepare for the test.
• Make sure your child attends school regularly — If your child misses school, they are missing instruction that could help them do better on the test.
• Provide a place for studying at home — This could be the dining room table, a bedroom or a corner of the living room. Make sure the space is quiet and comfortable for your child to provide the best learning environment.
• Establish a daily routine — Even if life doesn’t always go as planned, you want your child’s routine on test day to be as close to normal as possible. Starting the day with chaos or disruption can affect their success on the test.
On Test Day
• Ensure your child eats a good breakfast — Studies show that children perform better at school when they aren’t hungry. It’s important to give your child a good breakfast at home or ask your child’s school about options for breakfast. As long as your child arrives before the bell, most schools offer breakfast and some schools offer breakfast in the classroom.
• Help your child get enough sleep — Your child will need to have a good night’s rest to perform well on the test. Children ages 7 to 12 need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night, while children ages 12 to 18 need 8 to 9 hours. Make sure bedtime the night before the test is early enough to provide enough sleep.
• Dress your child in comfortable clothing — Students will sit for long periods of time when takings tests, and it’s important they feel comfortable in what they are wearing so they focus on the test rather than their clothing.
• Prepare the night before — Lay out clothes and school supplies the night before the test to create a smooth morning routine. It’s important for your child to feel calm and organized as they prepare for a test.
Stand for Children includes parents, teachers and community members who are working together to ensure that all children, regardless of their income, race or zip code, graduate from high school prepared for and with access to a college education. For more information about Stand for Children, go to www.standforchildren.com/oklahoma.