Thursday, March 7, 2013

ISATs--How To Tame The Standardized Test Monster

It's that time of year again for Chicago Public school kids.... ISAT testing.   Love 'em or loathe 'em, for the time being they're a necessary evil our kids need to deal with.   Our kids are in a public Montessori school that thankfully teaches child led, project based learning instead of teaching to testing.   That said, these kids don't even use desks, so some rudimentary test prep is necessary so they all don't freak out and fail just from lack of knowing how to do a bubble test or how to think like a scantron.

ISAT pre-test samplers are sent home each year so families can devote as little or much time as their individual kids need to get up to speed without the ISATs overtaking classroom time.   In years past the scores have been stellar.   As a CPS public school, our elementary has to administer the tests regardless of parental and staff distaste, and distrust of the wisdom or usefulness of regurgitation.   Change is slow.

In the mean time, here's how we're taming the ISAT beast:

1.   SPREAD IT OUT:   Our tests began Tuesday and last 2 weeks.   The kids don't test Mondays to give them time to settle back in to academia after the weekends and they only do one test a day and spread it out over 8 days, so they aren't overwhelmed or burned out, and can do their best.   

2.   BED & FED:   The school encourages all kids to get extra sleep and eat a big, healthy breakfast during ISAT weeks....  always good advice but especially important during testing.   Hungry, tired brians don't function well.    Last year a kid fell asleep during the ISATs and had to come back in at the end of all the testing and do a make up day.   Not fun!

3.   RELAXING MINTS:    Our kids were encouraged to bring in their own mints to suck on during testing.   It's a lovely idea and has been great for relaxing and de stressing during testing.

4.   MORNING EXERCISE:    My son's 4th-6th grade class hits the gym every morning of ISAT testing to get their squirrelies out and release all the nervous tension that can wreak havoc on test takers' concentration.   He loves it!

5.   GAME DISTRACTION:    My daughter's 4th-6th grade class gets to spend test taking mornings playing literacy games.   Thanks to our press connections with the uber fabulous Chicago Toy and Game Fair, we sent my daughter to school today with 4 Bananagrams Games and a Scruble Cube to share!

Check out these rockin' educational games that relax and grow your brain at the same time.   You'll be having so much fun playing that you'll hardly realize how much you're learning.   We're huge fans of all of these games and highly recommend them!


Pairs in Pears

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Scruble Cube

Click here to check out our past ISAT monster feature for more on our take on standardized testing.

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