It’s TCAP Time In Tennessee!


It's TCAP Time In Tennessee!

It’s that time of year once again, when all the public schools in Tennessee administer the annual standardized tests in grades 3-12. I not only see these weeks through the eyes of a parent, but also through the lens of a teacher, and whether we like it or not, testing time in Tennessee has arrived.

For some children, these types of tests can lead to a lot of anxiety and negative feelings, which in turn makes us — the parents — unhappy for our children. I am not stating whether I am a proponent of these annual tests, but I will say this: in life, we have to take a test (and pass!) for almost everything we do. You take a test when you want to drive a car, you take a test to receive a certificate that states you can practice law, or be a certified teacher, nurse, etc. We take tests in some way, shape or form voluntarily for many things throughout our lifetime. So rather than being negative about these assessments, which our public schools are required to give, let’s use these tests as an opportunity to teach our children good test-taking skills that will last them a lifetime.

Below I have listed 5 tips for testing time that I use with both my biological children and suggest to parents of my students:

1. Get a good night’s sleep.

The research is abundant on the benefits of getting the proper amount of rest every night, and this is especially true with testing. Sleep impacts mental function and therefore can impact a child’s performance on an assessment. My elementary-aged children should be getting 8-10 hours of sleep a night, which is a lot easier said than done most nights when you factor in extracurricular activities. However, during testing and any other important event, I enforce getting a good night’s rest and being in bed early!

2. Eat a healthy breakfast.

Nowadays, it seems that whether breakfast is the most important meal of the day is a hot topic. However, children ages eight through 17 should eat breakfast — I am not trying to have my 4th graders be intermittent fasting! If a child shows up to school with an empty stomach, I can almost guarantee that their hunger will be a distraction while they test. Many mornings, I may run out the door and throw a cereal bar and a banana at my own children, calling that their breakfast, but on testing days, I make sure to plan ahead so that my kiddos have a healthy, balanced breakfast before I send them off to do their best on these tests.

3. Make sure they are on time to school.

It’s important for children to be on time to school every day so they do not miss anything important, but even more so on standardized testing days. It can really start a child off on the wrong foot if they walk in to take their test and have already missed some of it because they are late. Of course, there are exceptions to this and things out of our control happen, but I ask my students’ parents to make every effort to ensure their children arrive to school on time.

4. Keep a positive morning vibe.

Most mornings are a rat race as I try to do all the things and limit the bickering between my son and daughter. On TCAP mornings though, I do my best to keep the mood light so that nobody is stressed or upset over anything. I know how I react when I start my day frazzled; for children, it is even harder to shake that feeling off. So try to stay positive with your children and try to keep them calm. Let the usual chaos of morning sendoffs get put on the back-burner so that everyone is feeling ready to tackle anything.

5. Write your child a note of encouragement.

This is something I ask parents of my students to do each year, so that on the first morning of testing, their child has a note on their desk when they walk in. The look of surprise — and smiles — on some of their faces are priceless. If your child’s teacher does not do this, take it upon yourself to write your child a short and sweet encouraging note before the morning of their first day of testing. Reminding our children of the support they have from their loved ones goes a long way!

All in all, I like to remind parents and children that the TCAP is just a test…it does not define them as a student. But, if I can do something to help my children feel good about these school tests, my hope is that this transfers over to all the other tests they will have to take throughout their lives.

What are some ways you try to relieve testing anxiety with your children?

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Stephanie Ransdell
Hi! I’m Stephanie, an elementary school teacher and mom to two, a girl, and a boy. My husband I have been married for 12 years now, together for 21. I am a Knoxville transplant, and am originally from South Florida. I am UCF alumni, a Miami Hurricanes fan, and a recently converted Vols supporter! I have loved calling Knoxville home and raising my family here. I love getting the chance to experience seasons and all things fall related, which you don’t get in the Sunshine State! We love to explore all that Knoxville has to offer and have made many memories. I am an avid reader, coffee drinker, black belt shopper, Disney enthusiast who loves a good laugh with good friends and family. I am so excited to share my experiences and thoughts on navigating life as a mom with you all through my passion of writing!


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