*Zoub’s survival guide for State mandated testing*
By: Zoub
15 March 2004

As a part time job, I have worked for a company that does grading and test development nationwide for states and their required testing of K through 12 students. I personally have graded Math, Science, English, Reading, Writting from grade 4 through 12. Supposedly this means I am good at it since I can cover all subjects. Even today, as I worked and discussed this with others I saw something new. These kids have made me laugh, mad, proud, confused, I even cried once or twice. Just from grading a test.

Prepare your kid for big tests. The rules of the home and family always take precedence over the school or the “system.” But I also want you to take these tests. That may not be true, but tell the kid that anyway. Relax, have fun doing it and understand you are not supposed to be able to answer every question on the test. There is no such thing as perfect on these tests. You may have to leave questions blank or have no clue what they are talking about. That is OK. Just move on to the next question. Remember that Mom and Dad are with you on this.

Use a number 2 pencil. Please, Please, Please, use a #2 pencil. Make sure the teacher gives you a #2 pencil. No pens, mechanical pencils, gel pens, markers. All of these can lead to unclear computer scans and hard to read images. USE A #2 PENCIL. Avoid those green synthetic erasers. Who invented those things?

Professional graders grade this test. Not your teachers. The evaluators know nothing about you. Absolutely nothing. So their opinion of you is shaped by what they read in your answers. There are multiple-choice questions, questions that require drawing lines or shapes, word problems in all subject matter, essay writing. Never write anything negative, never say this test is stupid or dumb, and show no form of disrespect in your answers. It can affect how the evaluator grades your test. The evaluator is the link between you and your grade. They try to be impartial, but that is not natural

Side note for parents: If an evaluator sees a sensitive paper, they have to make note of it. Sensitive is any form of a kid crying out for help, abuse, suicide, or knowledge of a crime or criminal behavior. End result, it gets reviewed at many levels, and if it looks like there is an issue, then the school system has to handle it. This means the system is going to reach out and touch your family. Make sure your kid never jokes about stuff like this in writing. The kids who did Columbine had their tests graded by us.

Write clearly and use good penmanship. Avoid erasing if possible. Think before you write. Try to organize your thoughts first. Reread the question. These tests are scanned. If the test has lots of erasures it scans unclear. This is a gray area to end up in. First we try to read them if we can. Many people have trouble doing this. So team leaders like myself spend a lot of time helping figure out what kids wrote, or meant to write. But what if the evaluator is lazy or takes no pride in their work and just scores it a zero. Yes there are many checks and balances to guard against this. QC is very important, but there is no such thing as 100%, make sure your kid does not end up in the cracks.

Story problems: STOP WRITING!! Ok you have answered the question. Stop, stop, stop. Lots of kids write themselves straight from a two to a zero. In some states I can give a score for a right answer, ignore the wrong, and with others the wrong counts and kills the right answer, which may be in there. Holistic grading is hard for some evaluators but we are seeing more and more of it. Make it easy for them to give you a good grade. Don’t fluff up your answers too much. Also check your answer. Does it make some sense? Three guys can’t walk out of the courthouse carrying a 500-year-old oak tree through an open window.

If you really create a mess in terms of erasing and rewriting your answer in the same spot, clearly scratch it out, draw an arrow or line that says, “answer here” and rewrite it in a fresh part of the page. I am telling you the scanner can pick up the erasures and then we enhance the screen so we can read it. I can often tell an erased line from a drawn one, but I take pride in any work I do. Not all people do.

Simple drills. Have kids tell you short stories. You pick the topic or hand them an object. Simple 1 or 2 paragraph long type stories. Cats, dogs, horses, toys, neighbors. Write down a number or simple math problem (multiplication or division) at your child’s math level. Have them tell a simple story using that number or math problem. Teach them about nature and science.
10x4 = X

Mom baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies. There were 10 cookies in the batch. She made 4 batches and had 40 cookies. Correct. (She made 4 more batches and there were 40 cookies, would be wrong. Now there are 50 cookies)

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