State testing is a big deal for teachers and for students. All year long teachers prepare students with knowledge, understanding, and the ability to apply their learning to real world tasks. As teachers, we discuss with our students how we are not only preparing them for real life, but also for the state assessments. For many students, testing week is stressful and dreadful, and do you do your best when you are stressed and full of dread? I know I do notJ. Therefore, I developed a plan to involve parents and other important people in this high-stakes testing week with the students. While parents and other parental figures cannot be present with the students during testing, I thought I would create a way to help the students know that they are being supported, “cheered on,” and loved by those who matter most in their lives.
Prior to testing week, I email a note to parents requesting them to write a letter of support to their own child for testing week. I suggest an encouraging note that of support for the child during the testing week, and they can also include notes from other family members. When the parent sends in the letter of support for their child, it is done so in a sealed envelope addressed to me. This is a surprise for the students, and they will not see their letters until the first morning before testing begins. As always, I have some parents that are unable to participate for various reasons. These special students usually get two or three notes from adults in the building that play an important role with that child. It might include the counselor, the librarian, or an administrator, but no one is left out.
On the first morning of testing, the students are given their notes to read silently. They are encouraged to keep these notes in a safe place to read throughout the week before the tests begin each day. I have found that this approach to parental involvement in the testing process can greatly impact a student’s mood during the test. Additionally, parents enjoy that they can support their own child even when they can’t be present to provide that support.