Well, it certainly is that time of year again. The temperatures are rising and the days are longer. New growth has sprouted up and spewed forth from the dogwoods and azaleas. That dreaded but familiar yellow green substance covers everything outside. The allergy doctors are booking up fast. The birds are chirping, the bees are buzzing. There is a special restlessness in the air, as we transition from one season to the next.

OK, so you think I’m talking about Spring, or possibly Easter or Passover? Maybe I’m referring to the summer break which is now on the horizon and not just a distant hope or memory? Nope, I’m not talking about any of these things. Instead, I am referring to the sometimes dreaded, but always survivable Georgia Milestones testing period.

We have less than a week until our kids will be going to bed early and complaining about the long testing days. Maybe you’ve thought about this for months and have been diligently planning and helping your child prepare. Maybe it’s just now hitting you and you’re wondering what you can do at this point to help them out? No matter the case here, understanding what will be asked of your child on the test is perhaps one of the best tools you will have. Once you truly understand the components, then you can make an informed decision on how best to help.

The first part of the test involves ‘selected response’ questions or in simpler terms, multiple choice. These are typical multiple choice questions that have been taken up a notch or two since the CRCT. They often involve two options that could possibly be right, therefore challenging the student to use those critical thinking skills. Most of the questions have an illustration that goes with them. These are often overlooked by students, who just want to get to the answer and focus on the answer choices, not the visual information. Talk to your child about the importance of those illustrations and encourage them to take the time to ‘read’ them before making their final answer decision.

The next two parts are called the ‘constructed response’ and ‘extended constructed response’. These are your written answers. (We used to call them essay questions back in the day!) The ‘constructed response’ is generally a short answer question, while the ‘extended constructed response’ will typically entail a full 5 paragraph answer. If your child struggles with writing, review the steps they can use to construct or build a good answer. There is some debate over using the RACE strategy as an instructional tool, but the consensus is that it can definitely help struggling writers as they learn to put together an appropriate response to a question. Google this strategy as there is a wealth of information out there for you to use. Practice answering questions using this strategy in order to help your child prepare for these two portions of the test.

Finally, the last part of the exam is called the ‘extended writing prompt’. This is where students will have to write a story or response based on a prompt they are given. One example that has been used over the last couple of years involves giving the students a story to read and having them rewrite the ending. This new ending needs to make sense and follow the rest of the story in some manner. The more detailed and creative, the better.

I know that the Georgia Milestones can be very intimidating for parents as well as students. Believe me, as a teacher, I was also intimidated. But, I found that once I understood what the sections were calling for my students to accomplish, I knew how to begin to help them. It takes patience and practice. Hopefully, you’ve been helping your child prepare for some time now, but if you’re just now beginning, it’s okay. Please check out the link I’m providing for a breakdown of the content weights by grade level, the standards used and other components of the exam. No need to panic. Just pause, take a deep breath, and begin. Before you know it, the test will soon be over, and the anxiety will dissipate!

Good luck to all the next couple of weeks!!! Let us know if Dynamis Learning Academy can help you in any way.