5 Tips to Help Parents Support their Children with IStep

 Photo Credit: Indianapolis Star

Photo Credit: Indianapolis Star

The window is now open for the second round of ISTEP testing for students in Indiana. This test is more important than part one and the score for it weighs heavier in a student's overall score. Unlike the first test that was paper pencil, this test is taken electronically. Students will be reading from a screen and will be answering questions from a screen by typing in their answers. Schools have been preparing their students for this test all year and leading up to it, many schools simulate the ISTEP environment in order to help students know what to expect. As a principal I would like to offer 5 tips to help parents prepare their students for ISTEP this week.

  1. Ensure your student gets a good night rest. I see it every morning, the looks on my students’ tired faces after a long night of television, video-games, social media. This week parents should work to ensure that TV, games, and social media is limited. It is imperative for students to get to bed at a decent time to get adequate rest. Students need to be at maximum focus in order to do their best on the test.

  2. Eat Breakfast. As a middle school principal, getting my students to eat breakfast is like pulling teeth. They just don’t like to eat early in the morning. But this week we need all hands on deck on the breakfast front. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and during testing is critical to success. Students need to put something on their stomach, so they are not testing on an empty stomach. Typically during test the gap between breakfast and lunch is longer than what it would be on a normal school day. Students struggle paying attention in class on an empty stomach and paying attention on test is even harder on that same empty stomach.

  3. Get your student to school on time. Parents - you are in charge and it is imperative that you get your student up on time to ensure they make it to school on time. If you have a student that catches the school bus, please make sure they are at the bus stop  early to ensure they do not miss the bus. Schools need students in school on time because if they do not arrive on time, they will not be allowed to test and will have to test at another time. It does students no good to test during the make up time because that environment is not necessarily built for students to perform at their best. Be sure not to plan any appointments for your child during the testing week.

  4. Talk with your student about the test. It goes a long way in helping your student understand the importance of the test if they hear about it at home. I encourage parents to actively talk with their child each night about the test. Ask them how it went. Be sure to offer them advice about when you were in school and had a test. They need to sense the importance of the test not just at school, but also at home. They will have a deeper appreciation for the test if they are getting the same reinforcements about answering all the questions, doing their best, utilizing all the time, and checking their work from you as the parent along with their teacher.

  5. Ask the school. Parents I encourage you to ask your student’s school what you can do to help your student prepare for the test. Ask the school about helpful sites to prepare your students for the test and possible test question they may be asked. Be informed on your students struggle area, so you can provide some help at home. It is a major help to your student to reinforce skills at home that they are working on at school.  



David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.