How Can I Help My Child Do Well On Tests?

Standardized testing is one form of assessment used in schools. Find out about standardized tests, how and why schools use them, and how you can support your child.

Here are a few suggestions for parents who want to help their children do well on tests.

First and most important, talk to your child's teacher often to monitor your child's progress and find out what activities you can do at home to help your child.

  • Make sure your child does his or her homework.
  • Make sure your child is well-rested and eats a well-rounded diet.
  • Have a variety of books and magazines at home to encourage your child's curiosity.
  • Don't be overly anxious about test scores, but encourage your child to take tests seriously.
  • Don't judge your child on the basis of a simple test score.

Before the test, ask the following:

  • Which tests will be administered during the school year and for what purposes?
  • How will the teacher or the school use the results of the test?
  • What other means of evaluation will the teacher or the school use to measure your child's performance?
  • Should your child practice taking tests?

After the test, ask the following:

  • How do students in your child's school compare with students in other school systems in your state and across the country?
  • What do the test results mean about your child's skills and abilities?
  • Are the test results consistent with your child's performance in the classroom?
  • Are any changes anticipated in your child's educational program?
  • What can you do at home to help your child strengthen particular skills?

What are my legal rights?

Several precedents and laws define legal rights related to taking tests in school:

  • Under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as the Buckley Amendment, you have a right to examine your child's academic records. If these records contain test scores, you have a right to see those scores as well.
  • Your child has a right to due process. For example, your child must get adequate notice when a test is required for high school graduation and adequate time to prepare for the test.
  • Your child has a right to fair and equitable treatment. Schools cannot, for example, have different test score requirements based on gender or race.

Schools are not, however, necessarily liable for tests and test results being misused. Your child's best protection against the misuse of testing is for you to be knowledgeable about the appropriate uses of various types of tests. If you suspect your child is being tested inappropriately, or is not being tested when testing would be appropriate, talk with your child's teacher.


Click the "References" link above to hide these references.

Anastasi, A. (1982). Psychological Testing. New York: Macmillan.

Childs, R. A. (1990). Legal Issues in Testing. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation. ED 320 964.

Herndon, E. B. (October 1980). Your Child and Testing. Pueblo, CO: Consumer Information Center. ED 195 579. Illinois State Board of Education. Assessment Handbook: A Guide for Assessing Illinois Students. ED 300 414.

Lyman, H. B. (1986). Test Scores and What They Mean. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Michigan State Board of Education (1987). Pencils Down! A Guide for Using and Reporting Test Results (2nd ed.).

National School Public Relations Association (1978). A Parent's Guide to Standardized Aptitude and Achievement Testing. Arlington, VA: NSPRA. ED 169 076.

Rudner, L., J. Conoley, and B. Plake, Eds. (1989). Understanding Achievement Tests: A Guide for School Administrators. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation. ED 314 426.

Bagin, C. B. and Rudner, L. M. What Should Parents Know About Standardized Testing in Schools? Parent Brochure. ACCESS ERIC, in association with ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation.


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