It's that time of the year -- standardized test time! The famous NJ ASK is making its rounds. The pamphlet with everything that will be on the test has made it home. You open it and start doing the practice questions. Then, you say to yourself, "how is my child going to pass this thing?" Those questions are hard. The writing assignment is like nothing ever seen before. And, with weeks to the test, what is a parent to do?
The obvious answer is to contact a tutor who can work with the child and help him or her pass the NJ ASK or whatever standardized test that is being given. But, acquiring the knowledge in order to simply pass the standardized test, is that a fair assessment of a child's knowledge of a subject? I would think that it is not!
Passing a test means that the test taker knows enough about a subject to answer specific questions. Being able to apply one's knowledge is the real indicator of what a child truly knows. As we go forth into testing season, it is good to ask ourselves the question, "What does my child really know, understand and can apply?" How can I help my child use her new found understandings in ways that empower her thinking? If my son has an interest for science, what can I do as a parent to nourish that interest?
Doing well in school is not as simple as passing tests, doing homework and attending class. Ask yourself, "What are you doing to encourage your child to engage your child in meaningful learning experiences?" How often do you go hiking or visit a museum? How often do you pose a "let's learn together question" in your daily travels?
Yes, standardized tests are important. But, let's keep them in perspective. Let's take this time to remind ourselves of what is most important to us when we think about our child's education. Now is the time to think about doing some non-standard activities that truly encourage children to learn. Every parent should do what he or she can to build confidence and reduce anxiety. Perhaps, that should be our benchmark?