10 Tips for Parents - Helping your child do well on MAP tests

Everyone needs a little help to be successful, whether in school, at work or in life.
Confluence Charter Schools annually publishes a list of tips for parents to help their children do well on state tests. Yet, the tips are useful all through the school year.

The Missouri Assessment Program is an annual test for students in grades 3-8. Every spring, students who attend public school and public charter schools in Missouri are tested in English language arts and math. Students in grades 5 and 8 are tested in science. Students in high school take End-of-Course exams in English II, Algebra I, Biology and Government. The tests, taken online, are required by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Parents often ask for advice to help children do well on the MAP tests. The following tips from DESE can help you and your student. 

Tip #1: Read, Read, Read!
Reading takes skill and practice. One of the best and simplest steps to improve the reading ability for children is to provide sustained periods of time for children to read.

Tip #2: Help your child to read like a writer.
Even in the early grades, children can begin to "get into the head" of the author. Reading improves a child's writing, and writing improves a child's reading.

Tip #3: Read a variety of books and magazines.
The English language arts test contains short stories, poems, dialogues, magazine articles, charts and tables. Children need to be able to read a wide variety of texts ranging from road signs to restaurant menus, comic books to classics, and from tennis shoe ads to computer manuals.

Tip #4: Build your child's reading stamina.
To build reading stamina, you may wish to encourage your child to increase gradually the amount of time she reads at one sitting. Include short breaks, such as stretching or closing her eyes for a minute. Set individual reading goals based upon doing the "best that she can."

Tip #5: Teach your child that visuals are part of the text.
Students are often required to gather information from photos, captions, drawings, charts and graphs. You can help by teaching your child to look at all of these materials as part of the total text.

Tip #6: Help your child know how to use text-based support in written responses.
Most of the constructed-response items on the MAP assessments have two parts or require children to explain or show how they arrived at their answers. Children will receive only partial credit for answers to questions that are not supported with specific details or that do not contain an explanation.

Tip #7: Teach your child to preview the test before starting.
Planning the test time will allow your child to pace himself while he is working and decrease stress.

Tip #8: Teach your child to identify all parts of a question.
Teach your child to identify exactly what each question is asking. Some questions have multiple parts, which are often combined into a single sentence with a single question mark at the end. The child should underline each question word (who, what, when, where, why, how and any other word or phrase that indicates a question). By doing so, she can see if a question has multiple parts. Not answering all parts of a multi-part question is a common error.

Tip #9: Teach your child to paraphrase test items, turning questions into statements.
Teach your child to turn questions into statements. The child may underline the question words as described above, and then turn each part of the item into a statement. For example, the question, "Why did the main character play with the ball?" could be rephrased as "The main character played with the ball because ..." This practice allows the child to phrase the question in a way that makes the most sense to him. He is then ready to read the passage and look for answers.

Tip #10: What can you do to help your child have a good testing experience?

  • Be aware of the test schedule. Be sure to find out which days and times students are testing.
  • Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and a good night’s sleep. Continue going to bed early throughout testing.
  • Make sure your child eats a good breakfast at home or at school. It helps with concentration and focus.
  • Be on time for school, and be at school every day during testing. Attendance during MAP tests is important.
  • Avoid scheduling appointments that can be done at a later date.
  • Dress your child in layered clothing. This way, he/she may add clothing to get warmer or remove some clothing to be cooler.
  • If your school allows it, make sure your child has a book to read when the test session is complete.
  • Be certain that your child has two or more No. 2 pencils, not mechanical pencils.
  • Have a positive attitude!

Adapted from the Practical Parenting Partnerships by Laura Schwab and the 2001 MAP Class 6 Team.

Parents, if you have any questions about MAP tests or test dates and times at your child’s school, please call the school office or talk to your child’s teacher(s). If you'd like to print your own copy of these 10 tips, check out the attachment at the end. 

Thank you for supporting your child and Confluence Charter Schools!