Understanding End of Grade Tests

In a few weeks, many students throughout the High Country will take the North Carolina End of Grade Tests (EOG’s), which are often a source of stress amongst students, teachers and parents.  As a former school counselor, I spent thirty percent of my time coordinating testing.  Although this was not my favorite responsibility, I did spend the last month of the school year working with students (and parents) to “tame” test anxiety and help them with test-taking strategies.  Here are a few tips I have learned along the way:

  • If your child does not already have a consistent bedtime and/or eat a healthy and filling breakfast, be sure to start this routine before test week so that he or she has time to adjust to these healthy changes.  Fatigue and hunger make it very hard for anyone to focus on a task on any given day, not to mention the last test of the year.
  • Sometimes the actual test format can be intimidating because it is unfamiliar.  Teachers spend lots of time reviewing for the test and working through practice tests.  However, did you know that you, as a parent, can access past forms of the EOG’s?  Check out this website at the North Carolina Department of Instruction (NCDPI) to download released forms of the test.
  • Answer sheets with bubbles can also be a form of stress for students that are younger and less familiar with this format.  You can find practice bubble sheets here or generate your own sheet, if this is something you feel would help ease your student’s mind.
  • It’s a good idea to bring your own #2 pencils (not mechanical) but you can communicate to your student that there is no need to stress if they forget them one day.  I have never known a school to not provide extra pencils during test week.
  • If needed, students should use the calculator that is provided to them on the day when calculators are allowed (usually known as Math Calculator Active day), as well as the sheets of blank and graph paper for all math and reading test days.  Sometimes it’s easy to forget about these simple resources but I have seen students benefit from being able to work out a problem or answer with paper or a calculator.
  • When it comes to reading the test score report, each number can be really confusing.  Most parents and students are familiar with a score of 1, 2, 3 or 4.  Your child’s teacher can answer more specific questions about this part of the score report.  A score that I often found to be overlooked was the percentile in each subject.  For example, a child scoring in the eight-fifth percentile has scored at or above eighty-five percent of the students that have already taken the test in the norming year, which is the first year the test was administered.  You can find this and more complete information in NCDPI’s Understanding Your Child’s End-of-Grade Test Scores document.
  • Last, feel free to contact your child’s teacher or school counselor with any test questions or concerns you or your student may have.

This post was limited to my experience with coordinating the EOG’s but information about all standardized tests with NCDPI can be accessed via the NCDPI website.  Testing and accountability programs are constantly changing.  This post is intended to assist parents and students with general test-taking tips and understanding of scores.  Please refer to current publications and information from your child’s school and/or the website listed above.

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