MCAS – Round One

Earlier this month I presented an overview of MCAS to a small group of 3rd grade parents. The presentation is posted on the Winthrop website.

This week begins our first round of testing. Students in 3rd and 5th grades will each have two days of ELA (English Language Arts) Reading Comprehension, and our 4th graders will also have those two days of ELA, plus a full day of Long Composition (writing.)  These days are spread out over the next two weeks – please see the website calendar, or the e-Notice,  for specifics.

In addition to what I mentioned to the 3rd grade parents, below are some additional tips that you may find helpful in preparing your family for the testing block.

Positive Encouragement goes a long way (all year-long) …

  • Make sure your child gets enough sleep, eats properly, and gets to school on time (8:15AM.)  During testing, make this a special effort.
  • Encourage your child to read.  No activity is linked to academic success as much as reading, and as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, reading books that are easy or just right for the child’s abilities, not reading books that are overly challenging or frustrating.

Prepare students on the day of the tests

  • Make sure that your child is well rested and eats breakfast.  My son always wanted an egg sandwich on MCAS days.  Not something we whip up on a typical morning, but I did always allot the extra time during testing!
  • See that your child arrives at school on time and is relaxed.
  • Dress comfortably – it looks to be a warm week so have your child dress in layers.  If the forecast changes, a sweatshirt for cooler days may be necessary.  
  • Encourage your child to do the best work possible, and to have a positive attitude.  The power of positive thinking is a real test-taking asset – if a child can visualize himself doing well, he probably will!

Test anxiety is rampant and can keep students from doing well …

  • Always talk about the test in a positive way.
  • Encourage best efforts, yet have realistic expectations.  Third graders are having their first standardized testing experience.  Fourth graders are now having to transfer answers from the test booklet to an answer booklet, and write a long, organized, on-topic essay!  Fifth graders are experiencing science MCAS for the first time.  Elementary teachers strive for growth and improvement, but it isn’t until middle school that many students get the hang of standardized testing!
  • Assure your child that the test is only one measure of academic performance, and it is not reflected on the report card (this is a real relief for many students).
  • Emphasize that test scores do not determine a person’s worth!

The second round of MCAS testing will take place in May.  Students in 3rd and 4th grade will have two days of Math testing, and students in 5th grade will have two days of Math, followed by two days of Science and Technology/Engineering.  That testing block is currently scheduled for May 7th through May 25th.  The exact days for each grade level will be out in the next few weeks.

Thanks to Principal Clery at Roosevelt for many of these bullet points!