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Moms Talk: How Does Your Child Deal with State Testing?

Standardized testing is a spring ritual. Do your children happily sharpen their pencils, or pray for the bell?

State testing. It has become a part of the school experience like lunch lines and gym class.

Every spring, students sharpen their No. 2 pencils to show what they know and to determine how the student, the teacher and the school are performing.

In addition to the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment tests in reading and math given every year in grades 3-8, 10 and 11, students also take a science test in fifth- and eighth-grade, and once again in high school.

The Graduation-Required Assessments for Diploma (GRAD) are administered throughout high school, giving students a chance to show they meet minimum standards for graduation in the fields of reading, writing and math.

For some students, this is a break from the normal routine and the opportunity to fill in some circles with gusto. For others, this is a dreaded, stress-inducing experience that can drag on for days.

As part of this week's Moms Talk, we're asking you to weigh in on this issue: How does testing affect your children? Does your family or your child’s classroom have special ways of dealing with this time of year? Do you think it’s worth it?

Our Moms Council — including, , and —is ready to weigh in on the discussion this week and encourage you to share your thoughts as well.

Post your thoughts, advice or questions in the comments section below. Also, if you live in the area and are interested in joining our Moms Council, e-mail Editor David Henke at david.henke@patch.com.

Jodi Saari May 02, 2011 at 07:27 PM
I remember when we were in school. Testing was simply a day when you had to come with extra No. 2 pencils and be prepared for a long day sitting at your desk. I don't remember any stress (other than having to be quiet all day) and I always had a book to read if I finished early. Now testing is serious! A lot rides on these tests (too much in my opinion). I think a lot of pressure is put on the teachers to prepare the students for the tests and on the students to succeed. And while I never stressed out about taking tests, I know plenty of others who did and still do. Especially those kids who have a hard time with tests. I'm glad that my daughter doesn't have to face these quite yet.
Kathee May 05, 2011 at 02:31 AM
I never cared for these tests (or any other test) when I was younger. I had a very difficult time in school. I would have complete brain freeze and become bored, especially filling in those dots all day. My youngest two kids are 4th and 5th graders at Pine Bend Elementary. The students and teachers have been working on preparing for these tests since Feb. The teachers send home note paper & an envelope and ask the parents to write encouraging notes to their children. You seal the note in the envelope and write your childs name on it, without discussing the contents. These notes are handed out on the day of the test. If the child gets stressed out, needs a break or wants a pick-me-up, they can open their note from home. It must work, the kids come home happy and talk about the testing. My kids seem to enjoy the Math portion as it's taken on a computer.
Niki Seabright May 09, 2011 at 02:12 AM
I really don't have much insight or much to say on this topic. I know my child has MAP testing at school that he does on the computer. We are told by the school which weeks they are taking these tests and told to have them get a good nights sleep and eat a good breakfast. My child doesn't seem to be too affected by the testing and doesn't say much about it.
Dyane Garvey May 13, 2011 at 05:04 AM
The girls did their MCA reading and math a couple weeks ago. I think the school does a good job preparing students for the MCA considering they learn the curriculum in French and have to transfer it to English for the MCA. At home, I try to make MCA fun and less stressful for my kids by packing a snack bag for them with a note for each test day. This year, it was jello, a granola bar, clementines, and homemade lemonade (a favorite drink). They eat school lunch so a home-packed snack bag is special, especially when there is a loving and reassuring note in it for them. They look forward to the MCA tests. Next week, one of my daughters will take the MCA science test--our last MCA test this year. She couldn't take it with her class because she was on an out-of-town school trip.

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