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A Teacher's Tips for FCAT Confidence

April 18, 2014 - 6:00pm

Tests are tough. I am here to share some tips for you and your children to go through these FCAT weeks with confidence rather than fear.

I dont want my students to be stressed out about the FCAT, and I am sure most teachers and parents would agree. Yes, tests are challenging for the students and the teachers who have been working all year to get kids ready by teaching important standards.

But think of it this way: tests let us show what we know. Challenges come in many forms, and almost anything your child wants to be in the future, whether a doctor, teacher, astronaut, or sports figure, will require taking tests. These challenges are a part of life. And when we reach higher, we go further.

Kids, get some rest before the test. Dress in layers to adapt to different temperatures in the classroom. Wear something comfortable. Eat a healthy breakfast. Dont panic when other students appear to be finished before you; theres no reward for finishing first. Parents, it also helps to have something fun planned for after the test. Looking forward to a trip to the movies, the park or a fun dinner can be a great motivator for staying positive. And really, when it comes down to it, that's what childhood is all about: preparing, learning, and enjoying the time for all that it should be!

Remember, these tests have no impact on your child's grades or report card. Only in third- and 10th-grade is the FCAT used in promotion/graduation decisions, but even then, the state recognizes that one test on one day should not be the sole factor in retaining a student, so there are options provided such as retakes, alternative assessments, or for third-graders portfolio submissions.

We test our children because we want to make sure they are doing well and progressing toward established academic benchmarks and standards. The tests help all of us teachers, parents and school leaders know if a student is struggling so we can do something about it.

Without measuring, we cannot ensure that students are truly gaining a year's worth of learning in a year's time. Without measuring, we cannot prevent students from "falling through the cracks." Now get out there and show what you know! Best of luck, everyone.

Beth Smith, with 13 years of teaching experience, is assistant principal of Valleyview Elementary School in Lakeland.

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