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How California educators are working to boost test scores

TUESDAY, APRIL 30, 2013 08:11 AM

Every spring, many California educators are faced with a dilemma: What can they do to help their students excel on the California Standards Tests? While some second- through eleventh-graders are capable of taking the Tests, which are part of the California STAR Testing Program, with little preparation and do quite well, others need extra help to excel.

Fortunately, many teachers are willing to get creative with their approach to boosting scores on the assessments, while others go with tried and true techniques. Here are a few examples of what educators, as well as a few individuals outside of the education sector, have been doing to prepare students and their parents for the current testing season:

Educators provide parents and students with workshops
While teachers can provide their students with tips for tackling the California Standards Tests at school, many of them also realize the positive impact parents can have on their children's scores. For this reason, several schools include parents in the preparation process for the Tests.

This was certainly the case in late March, when TownGate Elementary School opened its doors to families so they could attend Operation California Standards Test Prep Day, The Press-Enterprise reported. At this free event, those in attendance had a chance to participate in workshops, learn about test-taking strategies and even hear words of encouragement from the Celebration Worship Church's Pastor Barry E. Knight.

Principal puts her tips in writing
To prepare students at her school and others throughout California for the Tests, Carver Elementary School Principal Liz Hollingsworth provided San Marino's Patch website with a few tips she collected from different sources, including the U.S. Department of Education and the National PTA.

Hollingsworth highlighted the importance of students' health during testing periods. To ensure they do their best, the principal urged parents to make sure their kids get enough sleep and eat a hearty breakfast before heading into the classroom to take the Tests. The better rested students are, the more likely they are to pay attention to whatever directions their teachers are providing. It is essential pupils know exactly what they are doing when they encounter the California Standards Tests, as the results can affect future instruction.

"Teachers and parents have a common goal and shared responsibility to have children perform well on Tests," said Hollingsworth, as quoted by the news source. California's STAR Tests are an important means by which students and schools are measured."

If parents are not aware of just how important the California STAR Testing Program is, they should know that the results educators receive from the answers students provide help them see how well pupils understand academic subjects such as reading, mathematics and history, according to the state's Department of Education.

Health experts provide sample breakfasts
Brandi Muro and Katie Etcheverria from the Network for a Healthy California may not be teachers, but they know a thing or two about eating right. Recently, the pair spoke with KSEE 24 News about how important it is for children to consume healthy meals during testing season.

According to the experts, combining bananas, strawberries, vanilla yogurt and granola can create a healthy "banana split" that is quick to eat for students in a rush. Another meal parents may want to consider whipping up is oatmeal with ground cinnamon, apple and apple juice for a filling breakfast that will leave kids prepared for the California Standards Tests.

A healthy breakfast, a good night's rest or a few inspirational words may not do the trick for every student, but what is important for parents to know is there are always strategies they can try to help their children survive and thrive during testing season.