Whether it’s your first move or your fifth, even the most organized military parents need help navigating a new school district’s standardized testing system. While the federal No Child Left Behind Act requires every school district to test students in reading and math, every state has developed its own testing system. Here’s what you need to know before your child switches schools.
- When the standardized tests are taken. All third- through eighth-grade students test in reading and math every year and at least once in high school in English and math. Science is also tested three times between third and 12th grade. The exact dates and years vary, so get the testing schedule from your child’s new school as soon as possible. Put the dates on a calendar so you don’t plan a vacation or schedule a dentist appointment during those days.
- What skills the tests cover. Ask the principal, the guidance counselor or your child’s teacher about what your child is expected to know in the new school district. It’s possible your child’s old school had a different curriculum. Most school districts have websites with detailed information about knowledge expectations.
- How the test results are used. Standardized tests theoretically measure how well a student and the school are performing. In some states, these tests determine which students will graduate or go on to the next grade. Find out how your child’s school will use test scores and how it might affect your child’s education. States also use the scores to issue School District Report Cards, which show how well each district is doing. Visit your state’s department of education website or your district’s website to view your child’s school report card.
- Accommodations for children with special needs. If your child qualifies for test taking accommodations, those accommodations must be documented in their Individualized Education Program or the 504 Plan. Find out more about the accommodations your child may qualify from the Exceptional Family Member Program or School Liaison staff at your installation Military and Family Support Center. Additionally, you can access a special needs consultant through Military OneSource Exceptional Family Member Program Resources, Options and Consultations, or EFMP ROC. Consultants can answer your questions and concerns related to your child with special needs. Call 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.
- Talk to your child about the tests. Do not overly emphasize test scores or results, but be clear about what will be different at the new school. Assure your child that good study habits all year as well as practice sessions with the teacher can help them feel less stressed about changing schools.
If your child will be attending public school in another state, it’s important that you and your family understand these helpful pointers so you both can be prepared for the switch.