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 science.)
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 succeed.
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 yearly progress.
"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 five tips:
Amy Bizzarri is a Chicago Public School teacher.