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 Every Student Succeeds Act (replacing the No Child Left Behind Act) requires every school district to test students in reading and math, each state now has more flexibility to develop and administer what it considers to be the most effective testing system. Here’s what you need to know before you move:
- Contact your new installation’s school liaison. School liaisons are knowledgeable about state and local standardized testing requirements. Certain compact rules through the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission address standardized testing to make it easier for relocating military students. All military installations have school liaisons, so be sure to ask for a warm handoff from your current installation school liaison to your new school liaison. Find your school liaisons through the Department of Defense Education Activity service-specific liaison directories.
- Find out when the standardized tests are taken. States are required to test all third- through eighth-grade students in reading and math every year and at least once in high school. 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.
- Ask what skills are covered on the tests. 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 prior school had a different curriculum. Most school districts have websites with detailed information about knowledge expectations.
- Explore 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 the scores might affect your child’s education. States also use the standardized test scores to issue School and District Report Cards, which show how well each school and district are doing.
- Review individual School and District Report Cards before making a permanent change of station. These reports are the best and most accurate information for making the right school selection for your child. Visit your state’s department of education website or the district’s website to view your child’s future school report.
- Request accommodations for children with special needs. If your child qualifies for test-taking accommodations, those accommodations must be documented in the child’s Individualized Education Program or the 504 Plan. Find out more about the accommodations for which your child may qualify from the Exceptional Family Member Program or school liaison staff. Additionally, you can access a special needs consultant through Military OneSource EFMP Resources, Options and Consultations. 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 standardized testing and 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 transition. Preparing for your move by reviewing your child’s school testing policies and performance will help ease some of the stress associated with an academic move.