Prepare your child for MAP, EOC success! 10 tips for parents

It's spring, and our students are ready for Missouri Assessment Program and End-of-Course exams.

MAP is an annual test for students in grades 3-8. Students who attend public schools and public charter schools are tested in English language arts and math. Students in grades 5 and 8 are also tested in science. High school students take EOC exams in English II, Algebra I, Biology and Government. MAP and EOC exams are required by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

Parents, you can help prepare students for success with these 10 tips, adapted from suggestions from our school leaders and DESE. The test dates vary by school, but the test period is April 3 through May 31.

Tip #1: Read, Read, Read!
Reading takes skill and practice. One of the best and simplest steps to improve reading ability 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.
MAP English language arts tests have short stories, poems, dialogues, magazine articles, charts and tables. Students need to be able to read a wide variety, 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, 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 her best.

Tip #5: Teach your child that visuals are part of the text.
Students are often required to look for information in 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 an explanation or showing how you arrived at an answer. Students only get partial credit for answers to questions that aren’t supported with specific details or that don’t have an explanation.

Tip #7: 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 one question mark at the end. Students 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 #8: Teach your child to paraphrase test items, turning questions into statements.
Teach your child to turn questions into statements. 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?" can be rephrased as "The main character played with the ball because ..." This practice allows your child to phrase the question in a way that makes the most sense to him. Then, he’s ready to read the passage and look for answers.

Tip #9: What can you do to help your child on test days?

  • Be aware of the test schedule. Find out which days and times are planned for tests at your child’s school.
  • Be on time for school, and be at school every day. Attendance during MAP and EOC exams is important.
  • Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and good nights’ sleep throughout testing.
  • Make sure your child eats a good breakfast so he can concentrate and focus.
  • Avoid scheduling appointments that can be done at a later date.
  • If your school allows it, make sure your child has a book to read when the test session is complete.
  • Be prepared with two or more No. 2 pencils, not mechanical pencils. Even though the test is taken on a computer, your child may need pencils to write on scratch paper.

Tip #10: Have a positive attitude! Be encouraging!

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