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From the Desk of Dr. Charles Murphy: March 11, 2011

As we move toward springtime, our staff and students begin to prepare for the New York State 3-8 assessments, Advanced Placement examinations, and high school Regents exams. In this new era of high stakes testing, the federal and state governments have enacted legislation to hold schools more accountable for student performance. Around the world, countries recognize that there is a strong correlation between well-educated workforce and economic productivity. More and more, economically disadvantaged nations have used their investment in education to advance technology and facilitate economic growth. Clearly, concerns of failing to keep pace with these countries have raised serious issues with the educational programs in the United States. In response, new laws have been the impetus for educational reform, and in turn, placing a greater emphasis on standardized testing to measure student growth.

Although many may question the use of a single assessment as a measure of student progress, it seems these new standards and performance indicators are here to stay. Not surprisingly, the students are well aware of the importance of these examinations. For a good number of students, they experience the pressure to succeed and place a tremendous amount of stress on themselves.

We’re often asked what we can do to relieve some of this anxiety. The following are a few ideas that may help your child:

Read throughout the year on many topics, including multiple resources – books, newspapers, and magazines. Reading is the #1 factor of school success. If your child is well read, they will have a strong foundation of knowledge to draw upon for any given assessment.

Parents need to remain calm about the tests. If you’re overly anxious about the tests, your child may feed off this anxiety. We suggest parents speak with their children about their upcoming assessments and to encourage them to do their best. It’s important to take the test seriously, but demanding a given score may add undue worry.

Cramming is not an effective studying strategy. Regular study over a long period of time has proven to be more successful for students.

Naturally, a well-rested and healthy child will perform better. Additionally, please make sure your child is well “fueled” with a healthy breakfast and lunch.

Most standardized tests use the same format and directions year after year. Please make sure your child is well aware of this prior to their exams. Familiarity is invaluable in standardized test taking.

If you child is overly worried about the test, please contact our staff. They can be very helpful and provide excellent ideas to help your child relax.

As mentioned in the past, Island Trees will continue to prepare our students for “Excellence and Success” with these new college readiness benchmarks. We believe in our students and expect them to succeed in the high stakes testing environment. If you have questions and/or are looking for ideas to assist your child, please contact your child’s teacher. Again, our professionals are always willing to provide support to our parents and students.