The end of the year SBAC assessment can cause a lot of angst for students, parents, and teachers. We can all work together to make sure that we provide as positive of an experience through this process as possible.
Familiarize Yourself with the Assessment
The SBAC assessment is taken in grade 3-12. All students are expected to complete this assessment in school. The SBAC website has some great resources and videos that will help parents familiarize themselves with the assessment: http://www.smarterbalanced.org/parents/
Help Your Child Feel Confident
Have conversations with your child about what to expect during testing. Remind them that their brain is growing and has grown throughout this school year because of the hard work they have put into their schoolwork. Reflect with your child about what they have learned this year. Think back to the previous year and help your child remember that learning is a process that is continuous, it never stops!
Your Words Have Power
Many teachers encourage parents to write a short letter in their home language. This letter is read by students each morning before they begin the assessment. Your letter can include anything that you feel will help your child feel more confident. Reminding them how proud you are of them and explaining what makes you feel you such pride can be a great place to start your letter!
Support on Testing Days
The days of SBAC testing can be incredibly stressful because the normal routines of our school day are not followed. Students arrive in class, do a classroom specific motivation strategy, then begin testing. The testing can last for hours throughout the day. Therefore, at home, before and after your child arrives at school, you can:
- Make sure they are well rested
- Make sure they have breakfast
- If your child earned an SBAC medal, make sure they wear it to school
- Make sure they are on time to school
- Leave them a note or pack their favorite snack
- When they come home, ask them how they felt during testing
- Strategize with your child to discover ways they can feel successful during testing
Show What You Know
Throughout this entire school year, your brain has grown! You have learned new concepts, strategies, and you have developed new academic skills. The purpose of this assessment is simply to what you have learned. While it is important to do your best, it is also important to realize that some of the questions are meant to challenge you and that is okay! Part of this experience is learning how to handle situations that are stressful and daunting. Stay confident in yourself and show what you know!
Believe in Yourself
It is crucial to believe that you, yourself, can achieve great things! Have confidence that you can demonstrate your knowledge successfully! Don’t forget all the hard work you have put into your learning throughout this year. Help yourself remember how far you have come academically by reflecting on where you were before this school year started.
Feel Confident About What you Have Learned
We all have times when we have not put our best effort into something. Now is the time to reflect and feel proud about all the times you did put your best effort into the task at hand. Think of a time when you felt successful on something related to school. Hold that feeling in your heart and mind. Whenever you are feeling stress or pressure because of an assessment, bring that feeling back to yourself. Give yourself a moment to feel that same pride again.
Test pep is very different form test prep because one is about celebrating successes, the other is about closing knowledge gaps. While both are necessary, test pep can help build the confidence in our learners and remind them that while it is okay to feel stressed, we have strategies to work beyond that and put our best effort into our task.
Inspirational Posters and Reminders
Ms. Gates and her ASB student have done an amazing job of creating posters for students to feel supported during testing. Especially when frustrations run high for both students and teachers, this can be a source of calming in the classroom. The reminder that this is what they have prepared for, the messages that make them feel supported, the thought that it is okay to feel frustrated as long as we have strategies that can help us move forward – all of these messages can help support our learners even when they are feeling frustrated.
In Ms. Miller’s class, I noticed that she had her students create thinking caps with social-emotional learning connections. These thinking caps will help students feel excited about testing and help them stay motivated by serving as a reminder that they have spent the year helping their brains grow.
Every year, we ask our parents to write an inspirational letter to their children. Giving time to allow our students to read this letter, holding a conversation about what this letter means to them, and reflecting on the words of their loved ones can help students feel the supported and help them feel proud of how hard they have worked.
We are looking forward to seeing what our students have learned over the course of the year! We will be reflecting on the results and data to provide an even more effective academic education for each individual learner.