Expect your child to spend hours a day feeling antsy and filling
out bubbles with a No. 2 pencil to start the month.
It's ISAT time-aka Illinois Standard Achievement Test time, and
Illinois state law requires all students in third through eighth
grade to take this reading and mathematics-focused standardized
test. (Students in fourth and seventh grades are also tested in
With schools being held more accountable for increasing student
achievement relative to state learning standards, more classroom
time is being devoted to test prep and test-taking strategies.
In return, many children are feeling the pressure to
While the effectiveness of the ISAT's ability to measure
individual student achievement is debatable, the results do offer
teachers, and schools, one way to measure student learning and
school performance. Your child's scores will be compared to those
of his peers, both within the school and throughout Illinois.
Finally, the ISAT is used to monitor school and district adequate
"Schools who meet these state standards become competitive
amongst each other to do even better. This creates an environment
where teachers are can become overly concerned with how their
students score on tests compared to other teachers and schools
within a district and with each other," says Leslie Kovich,
director of admissions for Quest Academy, a comprehensive test prep
and tutoring center.
Since the material covered by the ISATs is material that should
have been covered by your child's teacher in the classroom, parents
can help their child "study" for the ISATs by simply helping out
with homework, encouraging reading for fun and working to extend
learning beyond school and at home throughout the year.
Help your child "prep" for the ISAT by reducing stress and
anxiety and reinforcing basic test-taking techniques with these
Amy Bizzarri is a Chicago Public School teacher.
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