Parent's Guide to the New York State 4th Grade Tests: English Language Arts, Math

Overview

PREPARATION = SUCCESS

The Test

* The knowledge and skills it measures

* Interpreting your child's and your school's test results

* How you can help your child's teacher and school raise test scores by reinforcing key concepts at home

Your Child

* Developing a positive, confident approach to the test

* Home activities to build problem-solving and reading comprehension skills measured by the test

* Coping with ...

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Overview

PREPARATION = SUCCESS

The Test

* The knowledge and skills it measures

* Interpreting your child's and your school's test results

* How you can help your child's teacher and school raise test scores by reinforcing key concepts at home

Your Child

* Developing a positive, confident approach to the test

* Home activities to build problem-solving and reading comprehension skills measured by the test

* Coping with test anxiety

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743214056
  • Publisher: Kaplan Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/1/2001
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 64
  • Product dimensions: 6.09 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Cynthia Johnson is the author of several educational books for young people, two of which received the prestigious Parent's Choice Gold Award in 1995, and were listed in Curriculum Administrator magazine's "Top 100" educational products for 1996.
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Read an Excerpt

Kaplan Parent's Guide to the New York State 4th Grade Tests, Second Edition


By Cynthia Johnson

Kaplan

Copyright © 2001 Cynthia Johnson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0743214056

INTRODUCTION

Although several years have passed since you were nine years old, your fourth-grade experience and your child's are probably not very different. There are still spelling bees at school, dodgeball games at recess, and giggling fits during class in which students try to stop laughing, but just can't. These are all memories you can share with your child. However, the memory of spending weeks in intensive preparation for a series of day-long standardized tests is one your child will have all on his or her own.

The tests in question are the New York English Language Arts, Mathematics and Science tests for grade four. Described as the Elementary Level Tests, the fourth-grade exams are taken by about two hundred thousand students each year. The tests are all a mixture of multiple-choice questions, short open-ended questions, and extended open-ended questions. The English exam also contains a passage the teacher reads out loud on which the children take notes and then write two short responses and one extended response, while the science exam includes a performance section which tests basic laboratory skills. Critics of the tests could state that some IRS forms are easier to understand than this test format. While this may be true, if you and your child familiarize yourselves with the test structure, your child will not be confused or frustrated by the test format and will instead approach each exam with the confidence of an accountant handling a 1040EZ form.

How the Elementary Level Tests Were Born

Although these fourth-grade tests do not cover history, a little dab of it here will help put them in perspective. In 1995 the New York State Education Department created a detailed outline of the curriculum requirements for all subjects from prekindergarten to high school. These massive volumes languished in obscurity, however, since they did not correspond to the types of questions being asked on the statewide tests. A year earlier the Educational Board of Regents had approved a plan to revise the tests, and so the task of combining the detailed curriculum with the new test format fell to Education Commissioner Richard P. Mills. Mr. Mills made testing at all grade levels the focal point of his agenda, toughening the academic standards and changing the format of the tests from a purely multiple-choice affair to a three-day, diverse-question setup. The first wave of students who took these new tests showed the effects of the higher standards: 52 percent of all New York fourth-graders failed the English exam in 1999, while 33 percent failed the math test. The next year students did a little better in English, with only 41 percent failing the English exam, but results in math were much the same, with about one out of every three students receiving a failing score. These massive failure rates made headlines statewide and, understandably, caused widespread concern (and finger-pointing) among parents and educators. Some critics claim the tests were too hard, others that the students were poorly prepared. The debate continues.

One thing seems clear: low scores do not mean these tests will be made easier or eliminated. With accountability the pervasive them in national education, more and more states are setting academic standards and then rewarding or punishing schools depending on whether they achieve these standards. In 2001 President George W. Bush even supported the "No Child Left Behind" Act, which would require states to provide English and math testing to all students in grades three through eight in order to receive federal funds. With "accountability" the pervasive theme in national education, more and more states are setting academic standards and then rewarding or punishing schools depending on whether they achieve these standards.

What's at Stake?

With so much emphasis being placed on these tests, you'd think the fourth-graders who take them should be given the right to vote as a reward (at least in state elections). Quite a bit is at stake, for both the child and the school district. A new system implemented in 2000 gives all schools one of three scores: "Meeting Standards", "Below Standards," and "Farthest From Standards." Schools that score in the lowest category face the possibility of closure or takeover by the state.

As for the individual, state law now requires retesting for all fourth-grade students who score in the lowest of the four levels on the English or math exam (see page 53 for more about scoring). Furthermore, the New York Board of Regents has declared that these students must also receive some form of additional instruction -- such as after school classes or summer school -- in order to boost their score. It is up to the school district to determine what form this remediation takes, so whether or not a student has to take Saturday classes, stay an extra hour late, or take a summer school class will be decided by geography.

How You Can Help

Many of you are already aware of how important the fourth-grade tests are to your son or daughter, which is why you picked up this book in the first place. While your child's teacher is probably already doing some exam-related work in the classroom, nothing is better for your child than tutoring from someone she trusts, namely, you. In this book are all the facts, tips, questions, activities, and advice you will need to help your child succeed on the fourth-grade English and math tests. The Parent's Guide to the New York State 4th Grade Tests: English Language Arts and Mathematics lets you know exactly what skills are being tested on these two exams, gives you test-taking strategies to make taking these exams easier, and tells you exactly how to teach your child these skills and strategies. By analyzing and discussing the test in detail, our goal is not only to provide you and your child with the basic knowledge she needs to excel on the test, but to instill a sense of confidence through familiarity, since feeling confident and prepared for these exams is a key factor in how a student fares on the tests.

After reading this book, both you and your child should feel ready to take on the tests first, and then the fifth grade. Though that feeling might not do you any good while you are at work, it will do wonders for your kid.

Copyright © 2001 by Anaxos Inc.



Continues...


Excerpted from Kaplan Parent's Guide to the New York State 4th Grade Tests, Second Edition by Cynthia Johnson Copyright © 2001 by Cynthia Johnson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction vii
Chapter 1 The As, Bs, Cs, and Ds of Good Test-Taking 1
Chapter 2 English Language Arts 13
Chapter 3 Mathematics 31
Chapter 4 I Got a What?! 53
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Introduction

INTRODUCTION

Although several years have passed since you were nine years old, your fourth-grade experience and your child's are probably not very different. There are still spelling bees at school, dodgeball games at recess, and giggling fits during class in which students try to stop laughing, but just can't. These are all memories you can share with your child. However, the memory of spending weeks in intensive preparation for a series of day-long standardized tests is one your child will have all on his or her own.

The tests in question are the New York English Language Arts, Mathematics and Science tests for grade four. Described as the Elementary Level Tests, the fourth-grade exams are taken by about two hundred thousand students each year. The tests are all a mixture of multiple-choice questions, short open-ended questions, and extended open-ended questions. The English exam also contains a passage the teacher reads out loud on which the children take notes and then write two short responses and one extended response, while the science exam includes a performance section which tests basic laboratory skills. Critics of the tests could state that some IRS forms are easier to understand than this test format. While this may be true, if you and your child familiarize yourselves with the test structure, your child will not be confused or frustrated by the test format and will instead approach each exam with the confidence of an accountant handling a 1040EZ form.

How the Elementary Level Tests Were Born

Although these fourth-grade tests do not cover history, a little dab of it here will help put them in perspective. In 1995 the New York State Education Department created a detailed outline of the curriculum requirements for all subjects from prekindergarten to high school. These massive volumes languished in obscurity, however, since they did not correspond to the types of questions being asked on the statewide tests. A year earlier the Educational Board of Regents had approved a plan to revise the tests, and so the task of combining the detailed curriculum with the new test format fell to Education Commissioner Richard P. Mills. Mr. Mills made testing at all grade levels the focal point of his agenda, toughening the academic standards and changing the format of the tests from a purely multiple-choice affair to a three-day, diverse-question setup. The first wave of students who took these new tests showed the effects of the higher standards: 52 percent of all New York fourth-graders failed the English exam in 1999, while 33 percent failed the math test. The next year students did a little better in English, with only 41 percent failing the English exam, but results in math were much the same, with about one out of every three students receiving a failing score. These massive failure rates made headlines statewide and, understandably, caused widespread concern (and finger-pointing) among parents and educators. Some critics claim the tests were too hard, others that the students were poorly prepared. The debate continues.

One thing seems clear: low scores do not mean these tests will be made easier or eliminated. With accountability the pervasive them in national education, more and more states are setting academic standards and then rewarding or punishing schools depending on whether they achieve these standards. In 2001 President George W. Bush even supported the "No Child Left Behind" Act, which would require states to provide English and math testing to all students in grades three through eight in order to receive federal funds. With "accountability" the pervasive theme in national education, more and more states are setting academic standards and then rewarding or punishing schools depending on whether they achieve these standards.

What's at Stake?

With so much emphasis being placed on these tests, you'd think the fourth-graders who take them should be given the right to vote as a reward (at least in state elections). Quite a bit is at stake, for both the child and the school district. A new system implemented in 2000 gives all schools one of three scores: "Meeting Standards", "Below Standards," and "Farthest From Standards." Schools that score in the lowest category face the possibility of closure or takeover by the state.

As for the individual, state law now requires retesting for all fourth-grade students who score in the lowest of the four levels on the English or math exam (see page 53 for more about scoring). Furthermore, the New York Board of Regents has declared that these students must also receive some form of additional instruction — such as after school classes or summer school — in order to boost their score. It is up to the school district to determine what form this remediation takes, so whether or not a student has to take Saturday classes, stay an extra hour late, or take a summer school class will be decided by geography.

How You Can Help

Many of you are already aware of how important the fourth-grade tests are to your son or daughter, which is why you picked up this book in the first place. While your child's teacher is probably already doing some exam-related work in the classroom, nothing is better for your child than tutoring from someone she trusts, namely, you. In this book are all the facts, tips, questions, activities, and advice you will need to help your child succeed on the fourth-grade English and math tests. The Parent's Guide to the New York State 4th Grade Tests: English Language Arts and Mathematics lets you know exactly what skills are being tested on these two exams, gives you test-taking strategies to make taking these exams easier, and tells you exactly how to teach your child these skills and strategies. By analyzing and discussing the test in detail, our goal is not only to provide you and your child with the basic knowledge she needs to excel on the test, but to instill a sense of confidence through familiarity, since feeling confident and prepared for these exams is a key factor in how a student fares on the tests.

After reading this book, both you and your child should feel ready to take on the tests first, and then the fifth grade. Though that feeling might not do you any good while you are at work, it will do wonders for your kid.

Copyright © 2001 by Anaxos Inc.

Read More Show Less

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