Category Archives: For Educators

Study Strategies

Study Strategies

By Mary Miele

To navigate independent learning and studying, students must have a myriad of strategies so that they can move through the process of learning. Within this process, students must engage with material in multiple ways, within a structure that works for their learning style as well as over time. The goal is for them to gain knowledge, comprehend, apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate. You can see this process in Bloom’s Taxonomy (see picture below).

I met with a middle school student last week who showed me material from her six subjects. She takes English, math, history, science, Latin and Spanish. Most of her classes move at a rapid pace and her teacher does not cover some of what she needs to learn in the classroom setting. Due to the rigor of the curriculum and its fast pace, it is up to her to have organization and study skills so that she can properly digest material once she leaves the classroom.

This student’s experience is consistent with what I see happening to students we work with across New York City. There is an expectation that students take home the work they are exposed to in the classroom, then work with it until they truly master it at the highest possible level.

For a myriad of reasons, it is rare for these kinds of study skills and strategies to be taught explicitly to students in the middle school. Thus, many students are feeling stressed and unsuccessful within the studying continuum. They come home and complete homework, but do not have an approach to master the material they are supposed to learn.

Thus, those of us who support school are tasked with finding ways to support our students through the study process. The following are a few of my favorite study strategies that you can pass along to your student or child today:

Work Within the Evolved Education Study Process

Teach your students to work within a studying continuum.

  1. Gather – collect the information you need to learn
  2. Organize – categorize and simplify what you need to know
  3. Study – engage actively with your material (see below for some ideas)
  4. Self-Test – test yourself to see what you have learned – use Bloom’s taxonomy to help you find some action words to help you (e.g. describe, analyze, compare, criticize ..). Also, know the format of the test and create a practice test to take using that format.
  5. Repeat steps 3-4
  6. Create a one-pager with info you need to study – create a one-pager with the information that is not at 100% just before the test date to review and copy over.

Take Your Time

Study over time. Most students we start working with only work through the first step of the Evolved Education Study Process. They gather up what they need to know, read over it and head into the exam. The problem with this is that they have missed key tasks to ensure they are properly prepared. Anxiety is often formed because these students arrive at the test without being fully prepared. It’s not a great feeling to be unprepared.

When we talk with students about studying, they often tell us they are spending HOURS of time studying. This is often true! However, they are not using that time properly, which is why they are not seeing results.

The key to effective studying is to work through the Evolved Education Study Process routinely well before the test date. In fact, students should be Gathering Information WHILE they are learning and taking classes. They should be Organizing Information EACH weekend. They should begin the studying process a few days before the assessment.

Smart Study Guide Prep

The key to effective studying is to be innovative with how you organize the information you have to learn. I just did a Facebook Live segment on study strategies and you can see me explain a few of these approaches there, too.

Create a two or three column study guide.

The best part about these study guides, which are adapted from the Cornell Notetaking System is that you can take notes as you are learning and then turn those notes into a study guide and experience right away! This can be done on a computer too by typing in notes and then adding a column to the left and/or right of your notes.

Let’s say your child is tasked with learning the information on this page:

Text taken from Eye Wonder Science

Typically, a child will read and take some notes on the important information. To be efficient, just leave a little room on the left-hand side (you can fold the paper to make the line, or add a column in a word or google doc).

 

Students can record notes on the right side of the page and add in questions afterward to aid in studying

The student takes notes and then goes back afterward to write in questions that they will need to be able to answer about the notes. Again, go back to Bloom’s taxonomy and create questions that not only ask the student to comprehend the information, but also analyze it, evaluate it, combine it, etc.

For math, students can divide the page into three columns. The direction for the problem goes on the left. The actual problem goes in the middle and the solution is written on far right side of the page. This approach allows a student to link the directions to the problem and its solution. Often, students are learning language in conjunction with mathematical concepts, so this kind of organization allows students to link the language presented in the directions with the mathematical concepts and skills they are learning.

To study math, students should write directions on the left, problem in the middle, and solution to the right. By folding the page, students can practice following directions and solving problems.

Aside from the column notes, visual vocabulary is becoming more and more helpful for students. Pictures provide students with context for the new language. In addition, see below how we use color to highlight word roots. Email me if you’d like to get more sheets of visual vocabulary.

Students can assign pictures to words they are learning and identify root words within words by using color-coding.

In closing, studying is a process, and part of that process is to review your test taking approaches and feedback from the assessment itself. Please join me on Sunday 12/17 on Facebook Live as I talk about the Aftermath of Testing. I’ll present information about how to rebound from a quiz you could have done better on and how to use feedback to inform your studying process.

In the meantime, if you have specific questions about what you can do to help your child with study skills, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at mary@evolveded.com.

 

 

For Educators: Five Ways to Maximize Your Student’s Potential During Tutoring Sessions

Five Ways to Maximize Your Student’s Potential During Tutoring Sessions

By: Mary E. Miele, Learning Specialist K-12 and Founder of the Evolved Education Company

1) Create goals for your work

What goals do you have for your student?

What are the goals for the support program?

In order to create goals with your student and your student’s family, you can ask about the 5 areas of the Evolved Education Paradigm.

What has been the student’s academic history so far?

What is the student’s learning style and what skills does the student need to learn?

How does learning happen at school?

How does learning happen at home?

How is the student developing socially, emotionally or physically; and are any of these areas supporting or interfering with the student’s academic performance?

2) Identify and make use of the strengths of your student

In what situations has your student been successful?

My favorite activity to do with students is called “Magical Moments on the Mountaintop,” a worksheet published by ADDCA.

During this activity, a student describes three events in which they felt they were on top of the world, in one-two sentences each. Then, they describe what it feels like to think back to that “magical moment.” Then I ask the student “What about this moment feels vivid and visceral?”

When tutors are called in to work with students, they are being asked to boost an area of challenge or to prepare a student for a test. By knowing the strengths that a child has and a story of success from his or her past, the educator can use the areas of strength to help boost the areas of challenge.

A few years ago, I was working with an 11th grade student on executive functioning. She had tried just about every type of organizational and planning approach and had not had success with anything. When we did the Magical Moments on the Mountaintop exercise, I found out that she had successfully performed the lead role in a play. We began to unpack how she was able to learn her lines and stage directions and then used those processes to develop strategies to organize and plan the other areas of her life.

A secondary effect of revisiting a moment of success and using that to create strategies for areas of challenge was the enthusiasm the student showed for the new strategies. By associating them with a successful, meaningful experience, the student felt positively about the new strategies and was inclined to use them.

3) Employ the I do, We do, You do Methodology

 

The goal of each tutoring session is to move a student first from familiarity to mastery with each concept and skill that is taught, and then ultimately to independence with each of these new skills. In the one-to-one setting, there is a challenge in how to accurately assess mastery. This challenge occurs for any number of reasons, but the ones that I have noticed are as follows:

  • A student in a one-to-one setting can be prompted easily and prompting does not mean the student has mastered the concept or skill.
  • Most concepts taught in a one-to-one setting are taught and move toward mastery within a short period of time.   Sometimes, students need more instruction time or guided practice before they can move to mastery. Often, tutors need to move a student quickly toward mastery in order to “get their job done.”
  • Students develop relationships with their tutors and may not be forthcoming about the questions and challenges they have – this is possibly due to a student’s desire to please the tutor or the fact that the student is too closely associating the tutor with an evaluator or teacher.

In order to best move a student toward mastery, it is helpful to employ the “I do, We do, You do” approach. In this approach, the tutor teaches, demonstrates, or models the skill or concept. Then, the student is prompted and guided through the application of the concept or skill. Finally, the student demonstrates understanding of the concept and skill on his/her own without prompting or assistance.

 

4) Communicate Regularly with Parents and Educators.

Tutoring is a supportive role that is best done in collaboration with a student’s parents and teachers. It is important to understand how learning is happening both at school and at home in order to support a student effectively.

We recently worked with a 7th grade student and learned from her teachers that she was not attending class because she was waiting for her tutor to teach her the needed information. We worked with the teacher and the student to help have better access to information in the classroom. The tutor was able to set up some boundaries around the re-teaching she would provide at home. As a result, the student started to use class time more effectively and the tutor improved the way she helped her student with the assigned homework.

5) Support Yourself in Order to Support Your Student.

The very best cases that I have been involved with have included a team of educators and professionals. These cases have allowed me to run ideas by another teacher when I was developing an aspect of support.

As support programs always Evolve, it is also important that the educator involved with the support change as needed. Often in my work, I begin to work with a student and uncover learning strategies. Then, a subject area tutor may step in to teach using the student’s particular learning style. Later, a student may just need support in how to conquer a long- term project or large exam.

By having professional support and the ability to converse with other types of support education professionals, I have been able to effectively support students as they evolve within their pre-kindergarten time through college career.


If you have any further questions about tutoring or how to use any of these strategies, do not hesitate to reach out to me at mary@evolveded.com. And, if you are an educator who would like to join the Evolved Education team, please send a letter of interest to Gina Rotundo at gina@evolveded.com.

 

Morning and Afternoon Routines

Morning and Afternoon Routines

By: Mary E. Miele, founder The Evolved Education, learning specialist and mother of three children

Parents know that morning and evening hours are challenging, especially at the start of school. So much needs to be done. There are many moving parts, and whether you have one child to get ready, to get homework done with, or to get to bed, or more than one child to care for, these hours can be difficult to manage.

The best piece of advice I can give you to avoid a ‘free for all’ in the morning or in the evening is to establish morning and evening routines with your K-12 student. If possible, begin these routines BEFORE school starts. By having your children work through the morning routine at least a week before school starts, your children will transition to school with better form.

For this article, I have divided the routines into suggestions for each grade category (early elementary, upper elementary, middle school and high school). Please visit our site for examples of checklists you can use for your child for his or her morning and evening routines.

EARLY ELEMENTARY:

Five steps to make your early elementary students’ mornings and evenings go well:

1) Make a list of what you need your child to do in the morning and in the evening.

2) Pair the list down to its MOST ESSENTIAL components. Children at this age need a FEW items to do, not MANY.

3) Find pictures to correspond with each task you wish your child to complete.

4) Place these pictures IN ORDER OF HOW YOU WANT THEM DONE onto a document. If you are computer savvy, you can create this document on the computer. You can also cut and paste pictures onto a piece of paper. I advise that you have your child do ALL of the ‘work’ tasks before playing (so in the morning get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, pack up backpack, THEN play)

5) BE CONSISTENT: Walk your child through the checklist and post the checklist. Keep it up–eventually, your child may know it so well that he or she will not even need to look at it!

UPPER ELEMENTARY:

Four steps to make your upper elementary students’ mornings and evenings go well:

1) Make a list of what you need your child to do in the morning and in the evening.

2) Have your child weigh in and let you know what order he or she wants to complete the tasks. For instance, if your child needs to get homework done, read, do a chore, eat dinner and brush his teeth, you can allow your child to read and do chores after or before dinner.

3) Put times onto the checklist so that your child knows when to get up, when to go to sleep, when dinner will be.

4) Be sure that your child understands what he or she will be doing in the afternoon. Each morning, it is a good idea to remind him or her what day it is and where he or she is going after school.

MIDDLE SCHOOL:

Four steps to make your middle school students’ mornings and evenings go well:

1) Before you meet with your middle school student, spend some time creating a list of the tasks you wish your pre-teen/teenager to complete in the morning and in the evening. Also, have your child do the same.

2) Have a meeting in which you negotiate the terms of the morning and afternoon routine. Of course you can deem certain items “non-negotiable” and others “negotiable”.  It is important for middle school students to have a voice in how they spend their time.

3) Talk about accountability for following routines. Agree upon what will happen if the routine is not followed. Talk about the privileges that will be in place if the routine is followed. Write these agreements down.

4) If you get push back on creating a routine with your middle school student, remind him or her that you are doing this to help; as in life, routines help us to achieve goals and to be successful in accomplishing important tasks. Sometimes knowing WHY a new set of rules are being established can help. Remind your child–when a middle school student has to juggle homework, studying, extra-curricular activities, social connections as well as self-care, a routine ensures that there is time to address each component of a middle school student’s life.

If nothing else works, “This is what we do in our family,” tends to be a reason that most pre-teens and teenagers cannot argue.

HIGH SCHOOL:

Four steps to make your high school students’ mornings and evenings go well:

1) Before you meet with your high school student, spend some time creating a list of the tasks you wish your teenager to complete in the morning and in the evening. Also, have your child do the same.

2) Have a meeting in which you negotiate the terms of the morning and afternoon routine. Of course, you can deem certain items “non-negotiable” and others “negotiable”.  It is important for high school students to have a voice in how they spend their time.

3) Talk about accountability for following routines. Agree upon what will happen if the routine is not followed. Talk about the privileges that will be in place if the routine is followed. Write these agreements down.

4) If you get push back on creating a routine with your high school student, remind him or her that you are doing this to help; as in life, routines help us to achieve goals and to be successful in accomplishing important tasks. Sometimes knowing WHY a new set of rules are being established can help. Remind your child–when a high school student has to juggle homework, studying, extra-curricular activities, social connections as well as self-care, a routine ensures that there is time to address each component of a high school student’s life.

If nothing else works, “This is what we do in our family,” tends to be a reason that most teenagers cannot argue.

Understanding Your Child’s State Test Scores

Understanding your Child’s State Test Scores

By Mary E. Miele M.A.Ed, Special Education Teacher

What tests did your child take?

Each spring, students in grades 3-8 take part in the New York State Testing Program as required under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The English Language Arts and Mathematics examinations given are based on the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) adopted by New York State in July 2010. However, it wasn’t until the 2012-2013 school year that the assessments in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics were used to measure a student’s progress towards mastering the Common Core Learning Standards. Students take the ELA and math assessments annually through grade 8. Science and Social Studies assessments are administered in grades 4 and 8 but are not Common Core aligned.

What skills are tested?

The ELA Common Core examination tests your child’s ability to comprehend key ideas and details presented in grade level texts. Their reading comprehension score is based on their responses to multiple choice questions that measure the common core learning standards. The mathematics common core examination tests your child’s ability to solve equations using the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division), base ten, fractions, the number system, ratios and proportions, measurement and data, functions and geometry; which are determined by their grade level.

Your Score Report Decoded

You can locate your child’s score on your NYC Schools Account: https://www.mystudent.nyc/. You need to have your child’s ID number (found on his or her report card) as well as an Account Creation Code (provided by your child’s school) to register.

For both the ELA and Math examinations, there are four major scores reported.

Scale Score: The scale score is determined by the number of points your child earns on the test. The higher the number of points your child earned, the higher his or her scale score. There may be no scale score listed if, (1) your child did not complete a sufficient number of questions on the test to generate a score, (2) if your child was medically excused, or (3) if there was an administrative error.

Quick Tip: You should NOT compare your child’s scale score this year to the scale score from previous exam years. The range of scale scores change by grade level and should not be compared as they may falsely indicate a better/worse performance than what actually occurred.

Performance Level 2016-2017: Students are assigned a performance level based on how they perform on the test this year. There are four possible performance levels:

NYS Level 1: Students performing at this level are well below proficient in meeting grade level standards. The skills they demonstrate are insufficient to meet grade expectations and Common Core Learning Standards.

NYS Level 2: Students performing at this level are somewhat proficient in meeting grade level standards. The skills they demonstrate are on track to meet current New York high school graduation requirements but are insufficient to meet Common Core Learning Standards.

NYS Level 3: Students performing at this level are proficient in meeting grade level standards. The skills they demonstrate are sufficient to meet Common Core Learning Standards.

NYS Level 4: Students performing at this level are currently excelling in meeting the grade level standards. The skills they demonstrate are more than sufficient to meet grade level and Common Core Learning Standards.

Overall State Percentile Rank: The percentile rank compares your child’s scale score to the scores of other NY state students who took the same test this year. The rank is reported on a scale of 1-99. The higher your child’s percentage rank, the better your child did compared to other students. For example, if your child’s percentage rank is 50%, it means that your child did better than 50% of all students in their grade who took the test.

Performance Level 2015-2016: The second performance level listed indicates your child’s performance in the previous year’s examination. The 2015-2016 performance level can be compared to the 2016-2017 performance level (this year’s level) to determine if your child has improved. If your child’s performance level is lower this year than last year, it can indicate that there may be some interventions that are needed to ensure that your child continues to progress. These interventions can include providing test preparation, tutoring, and/or test accommodations offered through a 504 plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Quick Tip: Students taking the 3rd grade test will not have a previous year performance level as this is the first year of administration. Use this year’s performance level as a baseline to compare to in future years.

Next Steps

Understanding your child’s results is just the first part. While the results may or may not have been what you expected, your understanding of the results can help you support your child during the school year and help them prepare for their next assessment.

If your child’s performance was a Level 1 or Level 2:

  • Speak to your child’s teacher to get an understanding of what standards they struggle with the most. Ask for suggestions on how you can support learning at home.
  • If you went through tutoring support, review that support with your child’s tutor and create a list of what improvements could be made for next year’s process.
  • Advocate for your child to receive additional support as needed. Students whose performance level is either Level 1 or Level 2 are eligible for academic intervention services (AIS) from their schools.
  • Speak to your child about their testing experience. Ask about any fears, anxieties or difficulties they faced during testing. Your child’s feedback may help you determine what type of support they need during this time.
  • Find ways to help your child practice skills outside of school. For example, household activities like cooking, baking and shopping can help your child practice skills that will help them during testing. These activities can help students develop skills such as following multi-step directions and calculating measurements that are assessed during testing.
  • Encourage independent reading at home. All children can benefit from additional independent reading time, not just struggling students. However, some students are more hesitant to pick up a book and read without encouragement. Find a book series or genre that your child particularly enjoys and don’t worry about how “educational” it is. Even magazines, newspapers and comic books can be good material to encourage reading.
  • Consider having your child evaluated for special education services for additional support that they may need. Many students struggle silently with learning disabilities that are unsupported and are not allowing them to demonstrate all that they know and can do. Students who qualify for special education services are entitled to receive support throughout the school year and testing accommodations during assessments. Testing accommodations that may be considered include breaks during testing, administration in a distraction free location and questions read aloud. These supports can make all the difference for some students. In addition, even if they receive these supports, there are no future implications on their post-secondary school and career options.

If your child’s performance was a Level 3 or Level 4:

  • Continue to encourage your child’s progress and do not look at the results as a reason to lower expectations for their performance. Some children (and parents) develop a false confidence that can cause them to slack on school and homework. Learning is a continual process that should be guided by your child’s curiosity and your encouragement.
  • Challenge your child’s critical thinking skills. Regardless of what grade level tests they take, all assessments test your child’s ability to think critically and analyze information presented. Help your child develop critical thinking skills by asking open ended questions, encouraging them to make decisions independently, and having them make connections between what they learn and what they experience in life.
  • Help your child develop their group work skills, their social skills and reinforce academic skills by having them act as a peer tutor. School is a very important aspect to a child’s social life and development. Giving students the opportunity to interact with their peers in an academic setting is preferred by many. Many advanced students thrive in this leadership opportunity. In addition, some struggling students benefit from learning directly from their peers.
  • Speak to your child’s school about possible early promotion. Can they be switched to a higher level math class based on a strong performance? While you don’t want to push them if they are not ready, you also want to ensure that they are appropriately challenged for their ability levels. Nothing is worse than a student who loses motivation due to being “bored” and unchallenged in the classroom. Inquire about enrichment programs that may be a good fit for your child.

Note about how to discuss your child’s results: 

The way you handle your child’s test results is a very personal choice and decision. I’m simply making some suggestions here from my experience in working with families and students to help navigate your own process.

What should I share with my child? 

I advise being factual about test results with children. Tell them the scores matter of factly and work with them on a plan for what they will do to meet expectations this coming year. Provide suggestions on how to talk about their test scores with peers — or better yet advise them to keep testing information private. Even if scores are at expectation, it is important to review the preparation and make a list of what worked and what did not work.

What should our “talk” look like? 

Give factual information. If you are feeling elated, excited, upset, frustrated, disappointed, or angry — cope with your feelings first. Talk with your child when you are calm. Ask your child a series of precise questions about the results and the preparation process such as: What do you think of these results? Do you have any questions? How do you feel your preparation went this year? Did you have enough time for instruction, enough independent practice, enough mock assessments? Did you have a successful mindset, discipline and/or attitude about the testing? What skills and concepts are solid and what may need improvement?

Write out the answers and use them to create a “goal sheet” for this coming year.

In addition to interpreting results and talking with your child about the goals, give your child a way to talk about testing with friends and teachers. I think if all parents talked with their children about the fact that results are private information — we would be all better off. But, since the questions and conversations do tend to happen — you may want to suggest your child know what to say if friends start to ask. If a friend asks, “What did you get on the ELA?” The student may be able to just say, “I did great – how did you do?” and give them ways to handle the peers who may really want to know a number, “You know, I don’t really want to publicize my numbers — that’s really private info, you know!” is a great line to use, for instance. Preparedness will help students to feel better about their social interactions.

What if my child did not meet expectations? 

First of all, remember that these are test scores, and while they are one important aspect of your child’s academic experience, they are also a snapshot of that one experience. Any number of variables may contribute to a child’s success during test taking. At Evolved, we view children as whole people — academics, learning, school and home experiences as well as their social, emotional and physical development come into play at any time during their testing.

If you are feeling disappointed in the results, it may be best to talk with me or with your spouse or another parent before you speak to your child. You want your mindset to be one of constructive criticism instead of destructive criticism. The point is — be frustrated, be disappointed, and then get to work on supporting your child. And remember — this is your child’s journey. It may not go the way you have planned, but it will work out and we can partner together to support you and your child along the way!

What if I don’t want to talk with my child right now? 

I would say that if your child is in 3rd or 4th or maybe even 5th grade that is okay, but if their friends will be talking about it, it is best for you to talk with your child about the results first. You will want your child to be able to ask you questions and not their friends. Most children have been involved in the preparation for the ELA and NYS Math Tests, so they are aware that results will come out. While they may not be aware of this happening this week, once they get back to school, they may have conversations with their friends about the tests.

Other questions? Contact me — I am happy to help!

If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact me at mary@evolveded.com or at 917 388 3862.

 

Admissions Letters: How to Help Your Child With the News

Admissions Letters: How to Help Your Child With the News

By Mary Miele, Founder of The Evolved Education Company
When one door closes, another one opens.

We know the story. You and your student had hopes high for a particular school. The foundation was laid – in the best possible way. The past months have been all about tours, tests, grades, interview prep and hours of research. Anticipation grew.

The letter arrives. It is opened, read. And, stomachs sink. There on the page is the name of a school not at the top of the list. Parents and students are left with an emotional ride which requires some skills and coping mechanisms.

We’ve been there — with everyone from PreK through College. Here is some well said advice for how to steer those emotions and how you can teach your student to manage the disappointment that comes with being denied a top choice admittance.

State the facts.

No where else but in NYC do young families have to deal with letters of rejection from desired schools. If your child did not get into a top choice school, it is worth stating this fact.

Of course, college admissions is another story, and around the country, often this is the first time a student is encountering rejection.

Remind your student that at the end of the day, all of the schools placed on an application are good schools (or else you shouldn’t have put them there). I am reminded of my own college experience, where I went to my second choice school. At the time, I was devastated. I thought my life was over. I went to this school, and I made it work. At the end of my four years, I couldn’t imagine going to school anywhere else. My experiences were amazing and fulfilling. I learned there are actually multiple ways to have a successful education.

Answer questions.

What am I going to say to my friends?

Tell them the truth. You got into name school here. It was not your first choice, but that we (the parents) are looking into any options for appeal, and that if at the end of the day, you end up going to name school here, that is okay. Name school here is a great school, and we will all find ways to make it work. You are going to have a good experience. (provide that glass half full reaction to unexpected news!)

How am I ever going to get over this?

Ever heard the saying, “If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me?” Empower your child with some real coping skills. What do you do when you encounter rejection? Provide those ideas. It may help to know that often school admission rejections have little to do with a qualified candidate’s credentials. Other factors may have gone into the decision such as demographics,  group dynamics or numbers from a particular school. If it is possible to get feedback from an admissions office about a student’s application, that is also sometimes helpful.

How am I ever going to go to school with out insert best friend name here?

Ah! There are more than one ways to remain someone’s friend. The separation of besties is a pre-teen and teenage challenge, but we adults can remind them of how this is only the first time they’ll likely encounter such an occurrence. It is best to find ways to foster friendships even when they are not convenient. Participate in a club, go to camp together, write letters or emails, be friends on social media — there are so many great options! Plus, new friends will be made.

Provide perspective.

Talk to your child about experiences you’ve had with rejection. Let them know how you felt and what you did to over come these experiences.

Remind your child that rejection does not indicate a great fault. Rejection happens because of an opinion or an evaluation or even a metric completely out of your control — sometimes having nothing to do with you or who you are.

The best possible thing to do when you encounter a rejection is to learn from the experience — if there is something to learn  — and then move on. Be even more amazing!

Do what you can do.

If you feel your child was wrongly denied entrance into a school, then ask questions. Appeal the decision.

I’m always about providing a “no regrets” experience, so follow suit and be sure you have not left any stone un-turned. This is your child’s experience, and you want to be sure you’ve done everything you can to provide your child with the opportunities they qualify for.

Block out the noise.

Your friends are talking about the schools they got into. Parents are calling you to share their news. You haven’t heard from Cathy– that must mean they didn’t get a good spot. Did you hear!? So and so didn’t get in anywhere!!! The gossip around school admissions can be exhausting and really not productive.

Try to block out the noise of “where everyone got in,” and focus instead on spending time with your child. Go do something else for a while — read a book, go to a movie, call an old friend who doesn’t live in NYC or who isn’t within the college admissions process. I promise, this too shall pass.

Circle back.

Come back to the conversation over time. Your child may need time to digest the rejection and to cope with it. That is okay; however, continue to check in with your child to be sure that they are truly managing the situation healthfully.

Of course, if you notice your child falling into longer periods of sadness or despair, address this sooner, rather than later. I always like to speak up to our students by making an observation, and then asking a question — Hey, Sam, I notice you’ve been looking a little glum lately, What’s that about?

Teach compassion and empathy.

Even if your child did receive a top choice placement, admission letter times are great opportunities to teach compassion and respect for peer experiences of rejection.

Your child’s peers may be experiencing rejection. They may need to speak about this with someone. Open lines of communication. Ask them if they are okay, and if there has been much talk about schools among their friends.

Offer ways to display compassion and empathy. Even though you and your family are excited about your admission, you might want to be sensitive that not everyone is having the same experience. Teach your child how to be kind and compassionate through example. Encourage your child to reach out to their friends who are experiencing rejection and offer support. It is during these times that a real friend is often really needed!

Need help?

Call us. Email us. We are here for you and your amazing children.

917 388 3862 • info@evolveded.com • www.evolveded.com

 

 

What is Learning Style and Why Does it Matter to Your Child?

What is Learning Style and Why Does it Matter to Your Child?

by: Mary Miele

What type of learner is your child?

A very distinguished developmental psychologist, Howard Gardner, developed a model of eight different types of intelligence.  When you glance at the list of the eight different types of intelligence below, think about whether your child shows strengths or weaknesses in any of these areas. Once you pinpoint your child’s strengths and weaknesses intellectually, you will have more direction as to how to best assist your child in a learning environment. You will also have a clearer understanding of and greater perspective on your child’s performance.

Linguistic: This learner thinks in words, using language to express and understand complex meanings; excels in reading, writing, and speaking skills

Logical/Mathematical: This learner thinks of cause-and-effect connections and understands relationships among actions, objects, or ideas; excels in problem solving, calculation skills

Bodily-Kinesthetic: This learner thinks in movement; excels in physical skills such as balance, dance, acting, and working with one’s hands

Spatial: This learner thinks in pictures and perceives the visual world accurately; excels in artistic design and construction skills

Musical: This learner thinks in sounds, melodies, rhythms, and rhymes; excels in musical ability, vocal and instrument ability

Interpersonal: This learner thinks about and understands other people; excels in group interaction skills and sensitivity to people’s motives, intentions, and moods

Intrapersonal: This learner thinks about and understands oneself; skilled in self-assessment

Naturalist: This learner thinks in terms of the natural world, and in understanding patterns of life and natural forces; skilled in animal and plant care

If your child is weak in linguistic learning styles, then he or she may need more visuals to support reading material. If your child is a musical learner, he or she may need auditory supports that allow him or her to listen to explanations of concepts and ideas. If your child is a bodily-kinesthetic or spatial learner, he or she may benefit from more experiential learning with the subject matter.

How does learning style matter to your child?

When a child learns how to learn best, he or she can advocate for himself or herself by asking for information to be presented in the best possible manner.  Each time a student learns successfully, he or she has a higher probability of feeling good about himself or herself and the learning experience.

What we’d love to happen to each of our students is what happened to Jessica. Jessica learned about her learning styles, and when she went to meet with her teacher to review information in preparation for a test, she asked for a visual to help her understand the material. The teacher was very happy to provide this.

Here is an exercise you can do right now with your student or child to determine his or her learning style. Keep in mind that a student will typically have more than one learning style.

1. What kind of book would you like to read for fun?

2. When you are not sure how to spell a word, what are you most likely to do?

 Sing the letters (musical)

3. What’s the best way for you to study for a test?

 Create a music video to review information (musical)

4. Of these three classes, which is your favorite?

 Science class (naturalist)

 

2017-2018 SHSAT

 There is a new SHSAT 

As you may have heard, the NYC Department of Education has been planning some changes in the SHSAT (Specialized High Schools Admission Test), which some 30,000 NYC eighth graders take every fall in hopes of admission to one of the city’s eight specialized high schools, including Stuyvesant High School and Bronx High School of Science.

The key takeaways are these:
  • No more scrambled paragraphs or logical reasoning
  • Grammar, syntax and editing questions will replace the removed content on the verbal side of the test
  • The test will be longer
  • The test will include “experimental” questions that are not counted toward scores
  • The math test will include some student-produced “grid-in” questions
  • 4 answer choices instead of 5

These changes are being implemented in response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s desire to increase the enrollment in specialized high schools of historically underrepresented demographic groups. The number of African-American and Latino students at the schools has been falling in recent years, a development that has generated much public criticism. Whether these changes will move the needle on diversity is an open question that remains to be answered. In terms of test prep, it is possible that the new content on the test will necessitate more tutoring and teaching.

We have attached a DOE memo summarizing the changes to the test as of Fall 2017. These include:

  • Standard testing time is increasing from 150 minutes to 180 minutes.
  • The verbal section is being renamed the English Language Arts (ELA) section.
  • The ELA section will no longer include scrambled paragraphs and logical reasoning questions.
  • The ELA section will now include questions that address revising/editing skills, in addition to continuing to have reading comprehension passages and questions; all ELA questions will be multiple choice questions.
  • The math section will now include five “grid-in” questions, in which students must solve a computational question and provide the correct numerical answer, rather than selecting the answer from various multiple choice options; the math section will also continue to have multiple choice word problems and computational questions.
  • All multiple choice questions will now have 4 answer choices instead of the previous design with 5 answer choices.
  • Each section (ELA and math) will include 57 items: 47 items in each section will be scored, with each question worth 1 raw score point, and the remaining 10 items in each section will be field test items that are not used in determining a student’s score. Scoring and the process for using test results to determine admission to the Specialized High Schools is not changing. See further below for details.

Click here to access the DOE site where you can find information about the SHSAT.

Reprinted from our friends at Noodle Pros

ELA and NYS Math Test Preparation

New York State Testing Preparation at The Evolved Education Company

The Evolved Education Company is offering small group classes, mock testing and private lessons to support students in preparation for the NYS Tests this Spring. Here is what you need to know about the tests and our offerings.
Dates for Tests
 
  • ELA: Tuesday, March 28 – Thursday, March 30
  • NYS Math: Tuesday, May 2 – Thursday, May 4
What to Know about This Year’s Tests
  • This year’s tests are shorter in length
  • There is no time limit on the test
  • The tests contains complex questions (for both ELA and NYS Math)
  • The questions test understanding of concepts, not just mastery of skills.
  • Math contains multi-step problems

What to know about the ELA Test

Questions are text based and students should find answers in the text. There are a good amount of “prove it” questions — requiring students to go back to the text to find the answers and to back up their answers with text evidence.

Passages will be authentic and will be balanced between information and literacy text. For grades 3-5, the texts will balance  information and literacy topics. For grades 6-8, the texts will also include subject-based texts. Students should be familiar with academic vocabulary.

The ELA Test will include passages to read and multiple choice questions, short response questions and extended response questions.

Students should be able to do the following:

  • Find Main Idea by pulling quotes, summarizing them, answering a questions such as “a title similar to this passage would be…”
  • Make Inferences
  • Understand Structure and Craft
  • Be able to read and understand texts above grade level
What to know about the NYS Math Test
The math test focuses on priority standards. Students are required to write out their answers, demonstrate deep understanding of concepts, fluency and application skills.
The test contains multi-step words problems, short answer and extended response questions where the answer must be described using words.
Students must practice reading directions and following them. Some are complex.
For older students who are dealing with finding percent off and tip, they will need to master the concept and skill to solve these multi-step problems.
Often problems relate to real life –such as using a menu, money, sales tax, tip, or riddles.
Test Preparation Class Information

GREAT PREPARATION BEGINS WITH GREAT TEACHING
Introduction

Performance on state tests have an impact on student choice when it comes to middle and high school admissions, particularly for 4th and 7th graders. At EEC, we will defuse the anxiety and stress built up around the process. We instill confidence in our students as we help them to deconstruct the tests, how to approach each question and manage their time on the test day. We make our courses fun and engaging!

EEC Test-Preparation Program: ELA and MATH for 3rd through 8th Graders 

Differentiation: The first part of the program involves getting to know our students. We use the Evolved Education Paradigm and a placement test for ELA and MATH  to determine how each student can thrive in our program. We learn and evaluate a student’s academic history, learning styles, school environment, family environment and social-emotional-physical quotient prior to creating the student’s individualized and custom-tailored program.


Based on the information we gather, we create a test-preparation program that combines content and strategy.  Where applicable: some of the lessons will be whole-class, but most will be created for individuals or small groups of students with similar needs and will include study tactics and approaches and test-taking techniques to alleviate test-taking anxiety and ensure optimal performance on these standardized tests.

Curriculum: We teach both content and strategy and have found it is often best to weave the two together. For example, if we are building vocabulary, we will simultaneously teach students how to look for common root words. For the ELA and NYS Math courses we are ensuring mastery in the priority items for each test and giving plenty of guided and independent practice. In addition, because of our education background and pedagogical strengths, we are able to create lessons that include hands-on activities, games to improve mastery and motivation, and traditional, stamina-building test preparation exercises.

Materials: According to the Department of Education, the exams have been redesigned to cover a broader range of performance indicators including common core standards.  Our preparation materials will reflect the new test formats and common core standards. We use a combination of typical test preparation materials. However, our master test-prep tutors will heavily supplement lessons according to student’s’ individual needs.

Class Structure: Group classes vary according to needs; one-to-one classes are structured according to the specific needs of the student and his or her family.

Teachers: Each test preparation class is taught by certified and trained EEC teachers, and is supervised and overseen by EEC Test Preparation Lead, Christina Amendola. Christina will visit in-class lessons, and she will oversee the curriculum development. She will be collecting and maintaining data analysis on each student’s progress, and working to identify and address specific learning differences so as to determine how lessons will be differentiated and scaffolded, unlocking the potential for each student in the program. What this means for our students is that they will each have careful attention and meaningful instruction in preparation for the State Tests. 

The Evolved Education’s Mock Testing Program

One of the most challenging aspects of taking a standardized test is the newness factor. Even for a seemingly simple task like using one’s pencil to fill in a bubble sheet can be thrown off by testing in a room full of strangers in a strange place or sitting for the unusually long period of time required by most standardized tests.

EEC’s mock testing program involves creating an environment that mirrors the actual test day. The information gathered from each student’s practice test is used to inform future lessons so as to ensure improvement. Each test is graded, data is collected, and feedback including specific follow-up work is provided prior to the next lesson. Additionally, we are able to provide accommodations for students with IEPs or 504s.

Each mock test is given a number grade and detailed feedback. Individual recommendations regarding the number of recommended practice tests an individual student takes will be made as the course progresses. 

There is an additional fee for mock testing and they can register by clicking here.
Here are the dates:
1/22
1/29
2/5
2/12
2/26
3/5
3/12
3/19
3/26
4/2
4/9
4/23
4/30

The Evolved Education’s Partnership with Parents and Caregivers

Inherent to EEC’s whole-child philosophy is our belief that families play a crucial role in the educational endeavors of their children at all points of the educational process. Knowledge is power; and, we empower families with our knowledge not only of what their children are learning, but how they are learning. We provide families with the tools they need to support their children at home in order to make any test preparation process successful.

Teachers will provide families with weekly reports for each student.

The EEC Paradigm and Track Record

Our company’s support for each member of our community, whether their program be one-to-one, small-group, large-group, online or in-person, is individualized. Each child, family and school is unique and our Evolved Education Paradigm allows us to recognize and honor each student’s distinctive strengths and challenges.

EEC provides top quality customized test preparation courses. Families that contract with EEC do so through an understanding and recognition of the importance of a test preparation program that works within a paradigm that is developmentally appropriate for prepubescent and pubescent children because doing so ensures each student will reach his or her academic potential. Of the students we have worked with 99% of them have scored within the top 75% of students who take standardized tests and over 95% of them have scored within the top 99% of the students who take standardized tests. We have a track record of excellent results and look forward to helping your children reach their highest potential!

 

Top Tips for High School Juniors and Seniors

EEC Top Tips for High School Juniors and Seniors

With the holidays right around the corner, December is a busy month! The college process is gearing up for juniors and seniors who are eagerly awaiting the results from their applications. Early Decision and Early Action decisions are being mailed this month and a lot can be done in preparation of the New Year.

Here are suggestions for juniors and seniors from EEC’s College Counselor, Molly Kahan.

JUNIORS

Make your first New Year’s Resolution! Juniors should get a jump start on the college process, because starting early will make it manageable, stress-free and fun.

  • Write a description of your “ideal” college and think about what you would like in a college or university in terms of size, location, academic majors, extracurricular activities, sports teams, distance from home, etc.
  • Visit local colleges to get a “feel” for different types of campuses.
  • Create an account with the College Board (collegeboard.org).
  • Register for the SAT and/or ACT in February, March, and/or April.
  • Register for the SAT Subject Exams for June, if applicable.
  • Prepare for the SAT and/or ACT: ask us about EEC’s Test Preparation Program.
  • Schedule college visits over February and Spring breaks.
  • Get involved! Find volunteer opportunities, clubs and extracurricular activities that interest you.
  • Research and apply to summer internship opportunities.
  • Meet with your school counselor to discuss course selections for senior year.
  • Schedule a college consultation session with EEC’s college counselor, Molly Kahan, LMSW to create an individualized college timeline. You can reach her at college@evolveded.com.

SENIORS

If you have been accepted into an Early Decision school, withdraw all remaining submitted applications.

If you have been accepted into multiple Early Action schools, make your decisions and/or start to compare the financial aid packages.

Complete and submit Regular Decision applications.

  • If you have been deferred from an Early Decision or Early Action school, finalize your college list and submit those applications for the Regular Decision deadlines.
  • Remember to have a well-balanced list of “reach”, “target”, and “likely” schools. Do not get discouraged; you will find a school that is a “good fit” even if it was not your original “dream” school.
  • Send your SAT and/or ACT scores to Regular Decision schools.
  • File the FAFSA and CSS Profile for financial aid if you have not already done so.
  • Research and apply for additional scholarships through the institution or outside organizations.
  • Once all of your applications have been submitted, write thank-you notes to anyone who wrote a letter of recommendation.

After the New Year

Look at important dates and attend an “Accepted Student Day” if you still have not made your final decision.
Visit any schools to which you were accepted and have not yet toured.

Four ways to help your child learn now

Four Ways to Ensure Your Child or Student Learns Now

by: Mary Miele
While working with a group of educators this week, I found myself helping them to refine their lessons in a way that made them individualized to each student’s needs.  Some were strictly academic while others needed support in the realms of the social emotional and/or physical.  I maintain there four are recurring themes parents and/or educators ought to always keep in mind when thinking about planning for a child student.
1) What is your child’s or student’s learning style? Use it to help him or her learn best.
2) What school experience has your child or student had thus far? Is s/he using it to his or her advantage by learning well in each class and meeting with teachers for support or clarification?
3) How much time does your child have to move from instructional, to guided to independent learning ? Are you aware of the stage in which your child or student finds himself? How would you judge the quality of time spent during each stage?
4) What challenges does your child face within the learning process? Is your child facing  a learning issue or obstacle? Is your child socially, emotionally and physically fit?
Current Success Stories
*all names have been changed to protect the privacy of our students
Johnny
Johnny is in the 7th grade at a prestigious private school in NYC. He is tasked with learning six major subjects: English, Latin, French, history, math and science. He has four tests this week and as one might imagine, he is feeling overwhelmed with all he has to learn. Johnny is a visual learner, so he and his parents and his tutor have created a visual calendar of his study plans.  They also created a one page map of the information Johnny has to learn and he spends time each day picturing what he will learn with each study plan.
Dennis
Dennis is an 11th grade student at a public school in NYC. He is working on preparing for his ACT test, keeping up his grades at school and also looking into colleges. Dennis has ADHD and must employ executive functioning strategies in order to manage all of his responsibilities. His team, comprised of his parents, his teachers, his advisor and his tutor, has decided to help him focus on getting help with initiation, planning and organization, and flexibility of thinking. In addition, he has been taught to practice mindfulness techniques that will help him focus within each area of work he endeavors.
Carol
Carol is a 4th grade student at a rigorous public school in NYC. She is working to learn the math content for the Lower Level ISEE test which will be given in the fall of her 5th grade year. For this exam, she has to learn fractions, decimals and percents, material she has not yet studied in her current school. Her parents realize they must give her time to be instructed on these concepts, so they enroll her in a math tutoring program three days a week as well as a daily exercise program seven days a week. As Carol learns the material in a traditional lecture-style approach from a teacher, she must also practice each weekend for an additional two hours. The five hours a week she is investing in this process along with her seven hours of exercise will ensure Carol learns the material well all while balancing her physical well-being with her rigorous academics, acknowledging the reciprocal benefits of each.
Samantha
Samantha is a 10th grade student attending an Independent school in NYC. She is a Type-A, overachieving student who enjoys perfecting her papers and study guides for all of her subjects. She plays tennis, attends parties, and is involved in community service. Samantha is doing well in all aspects of her life from a results point of view, but at home she shows her struggles as she frequently melts down, cries and fights with her parents and siblings; and, she has difficulty sleeping. Her social, emotional and physical well-being is suffering. A whole-child education specialist came to meet with Samantha and her family to help her to learn how to become more equipped to manage her responsibilities and maintain her overall health and wellness.

Understanding your Child’s State Test Scores

Title: Understanding your Child’s State Test Scores

By Nicole Lucien M.S.Ed, Special Education Teacher

What tests did your child take?

Each spring, students in grades 3-8 take part in the New York State Testing Program as required under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The English Language Arts and Mathematics examinations given are based on the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) adopted by New York State in July 2010. However, it wasn’t until the 2012-2013 school year that the assessments in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics were used to measure a student’s progress towards mastering the Common Core Learning Standards. Students take the ELA and math assessments annually through grade 8. Science and Social Studies assessments are administered in grades 4 and 8 but are not Common Core aligned.

Quick Tip: The results from the ELA and Math Common Core Tests are not included in your child’s official transcript or permanent student record at this time. However, that can change in the future.

What skills are tested?

The ELA Common Core examination tests your child’s ability to comprehend key ideas and details presented in grade level texts. Their reading comprehension score is based on their responses to multiple choice questions that measure the common core learning standards. The mathematics common core examination tests your child’s ability to solve equations using the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division), base ten, fractions, the number system, ratios and proportions, measurement and data, functions and geometry; which are determined by their grade level.

What was different this year?

More Teacher Input: Based on the feedback given to the New York State Education Department (NYSED), there were a few changes made to the examinations administered this year. The NYSED has significantly increased the number of educators who are involved in creating and reviewing the assessments. This will help ensure that assessments are rigorous but fair for all students.

Shorter Test Length: One consistent recommendation made to NYSED was to reduce the length of the test. Based on this feedback, the assessments administered this year had a reduced number of test questions on both the ELA and Math tests. Specifically, the ELA test had one less passage and fewer comprehension questions to allow students more time to read the passages more closely. For the math test, students also had fewer questions to answer.

No Time Limits: The biggest change implemented this year is a shift to untimed testing for all students. Feedback from educators indicated that students found it difficult to work at their own pace under the timed conditions. With the shift to untimed testing, students were given more of an opportunity to demonstrate what they know and what they can do. Guidelines indicate that as long as students were working productively, they were allowed as much time as they need to complete the test.

Quick Tip: Assessments are continually updated based on student performance and feedback. The shorter test length and unlimited time are not guaranteed for this upcoming school year. Speak to your child’s school before the upcoming state tests this spring to see if there are any changes to these guidelines.

Your Score Report Decoded

You can locate your child’s score on your NYC Schools Account: https://www.mystudent.nyc/. You need to have your child’s ID number (found on his or her report card) as well as an Account Creation Code (provided by your child’s school) to register.

For both the ELA and Math examinations, there are four major scores reported.

Scale Score: The scale score is determined by the number of points your child earns on the test. The higher the number of points your child earned, the higher his or her scale score. There may be no scale score listed if, (1) your child did not complete a sufficient number of questions on the test to generate a score, (2) if your child was medically excused, or (3) if there was an administrative error.

Quick Tip: You should NOT compare your child’s scale score this year to the scale score from previous exam years. The range of scale scores change by grade level and should not be compared as they may falsely indicate a better/worse performance than what actually occurred.

Performance Level 2015-2016: Students are assigned a performance level based on how they perform on the test this year. There are four possible performance levels:

NYS Level 1: Students performing at this level are well below proficient in meeting grade level standards. The skills they demonstrate are insufficient to meet grade expectations and Common Core Learning Standards.

NYS Level 2: Students performing at this level are somewhat proficient in meeting grade level standards. The skills they demonstrate are on track to meet current New York high school graduation requirements but are insufficient to meet Common Core Learning Standards.

NYS Level 3: Students performing at this level are proficient in meeting grade level standards. The skills they demonstrate are sufficient to meet Common Core Learning Standards.

NYS Level 4: Students performing at this level are currently excelling in meeting the grade level standards. The skills they demonstrate are more than sufficient to meet grade level and Common Core Learning Standards.

Quick Tip: The New York City Department of Education has indicated that state test results will not have promotion consequences for students until at least the 2019-2020 school year. Results of the state test are only one measure of your child’s performance and should be considered in conjunction with student work on classroom assignments, projects, essays, and other assessments. However, private, parochial or catholic schools may have their own promotion criterion that incorporates Common Core test results. Speak to your child’s school in the beginning of the school year about the promotion criteria for their grade level and what assessments and metrics are used as part of promotion consideration. Then follow up with teachers throughout the school year to see how your child is progressing towards the promotion criteria. This can help you spot any difficulties they may be having so that additional help and remediation can be arranged with their teacher as early as possible.

Overall State Percentile Rank: The percentile rank compares your child’s scale score to the scores of other NY state students who took the same test this year. The rank is reported on a scale of 1-99. The higher your child’s percentage rank, the better your child did compared to other students. For example, if your child’s percentage rank is 50%, it means that your child did better than 50% of all students in their grade who took the test.

Quick Tip: Keep in mind that if your child was held back, their percentage rank is compared to students in their grade level, not their age. Keep this in mind when considering the percentile rank.

Performance Level 2014-2015: The second performance level listed indicates your child’s performance in the previous year’s examination. The 2014-2015 performance level can be compared to the 2015-2016 performance level (this year’s level) to determine if your child has improved. If your child’s performance level is lower this year than last year, it can indicate that there may be some interventions that are needed to ensure that your child continues to progress. These interventions can include providing test preparation, tutoring, and/or test accommodations offered through a 504 plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Quick Tip: Students taking the 3rd grade test will not have a previous year performance level as this is the first year of administration. Use this year’s performance level as a baseline to compare to in future years.

Next Steps

Understanding your child’s results is just the first part. While the results may or may not have been what you expected, your understanding of the results can help you support your child during the school year and help them prepare for their next assessment.

If your child’s performance was a Level 1 or Level 2:

  • Speak to your child’s teacher to get an understanding of what standards they struggle with the most. Ask for suggestions on how you can support learning at home.
  • Advocate for your child to receive additional support as needed. Students whose performance level is either Level 1 or Level 2 are eligible for academic intervention services (AIS) from their schools.
  • Speak to your child about their testing experience. Ask about any fears, anxieties or difficulties they faced during testing. Your child’s feedback may help you determine what type of support they need during this time.
  • Find ways to help your child practice skills outside of school. For example, household activities like cooking, baking and shopping can help your child practice skills that will help them during testing. These activities can help students develop skills such as following multi-step directions and calculating measurements that are assessed during testing.
  • Encourage independent reading at home. All children can benefit from additional independent reading time, not just struggling students. However, some students are more hesitant to pick up a book and read without encouragement. Find a book series or genre that your child particularly enjoys and don’t worry about how “educational” it is. Even magazines, newspapers and comic books can be good material to encourage reading.
  • Consider having your child evaluated for special education services for additional support that they may need. Many students struggle silently with learning disabilities that are unsupported and are not allowing them to demonstrate all that they know and can do. Students who qualify for special education services are entitled to receive support throughout the school year and testing accommodations during assessments. Testing accommodations that may be considered include breaks during testing, administration in a distraction free location and questions read aloud. These supports can make all the difference for some students. In addition, even if they receive these supports, there are no future implications on their post-secondary school and career options.

If your child’s performance was a Level 3 or Level 4:

  • Continue to encourage your child’s progress and do not look at the results as a reason to lower expectations for their performance. Some children (and parents) develop a false confidence that can cause them to slack on school and homework. Learning is a continual process that should be guided by your child’s curiosity and your encouragement.
  • Challenge your child’s critical thinking skills. Regardless of what grade level tests they take, all assessments test your child’s ability to think critically and analyze information presented. Help your child develop critical thinking skills by asking open ended questions, encouraging them to make decisions independently, and having them make connections between what they learn and what they experience in life.
  • Help your child develop their group work skills, their social skills and reinforce academic skills by having them act as a peer tutor. School is a very important aspect to a child’s social life and development. Giving students the opportunity to interact with their peers in an academic setting is preferred by many. Many advanced students thrive in this leadership opportunity. In addition, some struggling students benefit from learning directly from their peers.
  • Speak to your child’s school about possible early promotion. Can they be switched to a higher level math class based on a strong performance? Should they be considered to skip a grade? While you don’t want to push them if they are not ready, you also want to ensure that they are appropriately challenged for their ability levels. Nothing is worse than a student who loses motivation due to being “bored” and unchallenged in the classroom. Inquire about enrichment programs that may be a good fit for your child.

 

Key Pieces of Advice from Parents who have been There

Parenting Standardized Tests: A Series for Parents of School-aged Children

Key Pieces of Advice from Parents who have been There

by Mary E. Miele and Gina Rotundo, from the The Evolved Education Company

 

Here are a collection of tips, strategies, and best practices from parents who have gone through the process at least once.

  • Rule # 1 – Do not let them see you sweat. Your child will feel your anxiety and internalize it and this will not help you or your child.
  • Learn all you can about the tests. Learn what the formats are, the time spent on each section and how the test is graded.
  • Discuss your child’s abilities and challenges at the first parent-teacher conference and translate these into test-taking skills.
  • Express to your child she needs to do her best and not compare herself to her peers. You can opt to not tell her what scores she earned. Just let her know she did well.
  • Do not pressure your child; she will pressure herself and will feel the pressure from her peers and teachers.
  • Remember, state tests are only one of the many ways to measure what your child is learning and able to do.
  • Look for signs of test anxiety. Ask your teacher how your child does on in-class tests. Does she finish on time? Does she know how to pace herself? Does she make careless errors?
  • Give your child a practice test at home to see how she handles the different formats so you can work on strengthening her weaknesses.
  • Make sure your child reads a variety of genres and reads for at least 30 minutes every night as even the math test involves a lot of reading. Doing this will expose your child to a variety of texts and vocabulary; but, most importantly, this will help build stamina.
  • Create a quiet study space for your child and make sure she can sit and stay on task the full time of your child’s test. Do not expect this to happen immediately; you will have to work up to the full time. For children who have a 504 granting extended time, find out how long your child will sit for.
  • Do fun activities throughout the year that are timed so your child will learn a sense of pacing and time management.
  • Use your child’s 3rd grade experience to learn how she handles test taking and whether she will need a 504 Plan, tutoring, or both.
  • Talk about the tests with your child: why they have to take tests and what they are used for. Normalizing test taking will help alleviate stress.
  • Remind your child that the test measures certain things, but does not measure intelligence.
  • Remind your child that one test is just that, one test. Some tests will go very well and others will not. Take it one test at a time and maintain a healthy perspective.