February's Math Newsletter 2019

A Parent Newsletter About Mathematics at Lyseth School

from Cindy Nilsen, Lyseth's Instructional Coach of Mathematics Contact: [email protected]

Hello again.

In a short while, third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers at Lyseth will be administering the state’s standardized assessments in Reading, Mathematics, and Writing to their students. These tests are given each year in Spring. On Maine’s Department of Education website, these tests and the rationales for having students assessed are fully explained. Here is an excerpt:

Maine Comprehensive Assessment System

Assessing student learning is an essential aspect of education, as it provides data that can lead to improved instruction and outcomes…. The MECAS provides information about the academic progress of students, schools, and the state as a whole. The MECAS includes state assessments, known as the Maine Educational Assessments, which measure the progress of Maine students in the areas of English Language Arts and Literacy, Mathematics.

As teachers, we only ask that students try to do their best work on these assessments. We create calm and quiet testing environments. Though the tests are only for third, fourth, and fifth graders, we are helped and supported by the entire school. You might be surprised to learn that the entire amount of time spent on these assessments is under 8 hours, and that the testing sessions are spread out over 3 weeks. Here is a session description:                                   

This newsletter is devoted to an offering of tips and strategies parents can apply in order to make this testing period less stressful for Lyseth’s students. Thank you for your support!

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me, or your child’s teacher.

The following is adapted from:


Tips for Parents to Help Your Child Prepare for Tests
No matter what your personal feelings on high-stakes testing are, there is no escaping the reality that these assessments will be an important part of your child’s academic experience. And, every parent wants to see their student experience success in the classroom. So, what’s the best way to help your child prepare for high-stakes tests—and keep a healthy mindset while doing so? Here’s eight simple tips for parents to help your child perform his or her best on testing days.

Prioritize attendance Tests are ultimately intended to be a measure of how well students have learned the material being taught in class. If you’re responsible for transporting your child to school, make sure your own commitments aren’t making them late to class. Or, if it’s their responsibility to catch the bus make sure they are sticking to a schedule that gets them to class on time every day. When students arrive late, they miss important announcements, information review, and new concept introduction. And of course, only allow your child to stay home from school when it’s truly necessary.

Communicate with your child’s teacher Regular communication with your child’s instructor can help you gain insight into his or her progress. Make a point of meeting or talking with your child’s teacher on an ongoing basis to understand what your child is working on, what he or she will be tested on, and the areas in which he or she is excelling and struggling. Your child’s teacher is also a great resource for test-preparation activities or strategies you can use with your child at home. Plus, they can keep you up to date on group study sessions or other opportunities for additional review that your child may benefit from.

Talk to your child about test taking Sometimes, the purpose and goals of testing are difficult for children to understand. Without that foundation, it’s easier for children to be intimidated by testing or simply not feel motivated to put forth their best effort. Have open, ongoing conversations with your child to explain the benefits of testing, focusing on how it helps them, their teacher, their school, and other educators understand their strengths and weaknesses and figure out the most effective ways to teach. Knowing the “why” behind testing can help instill a drive to succeed in your child.

Offer positive reinforcement A little encouragement can go a long way in helping students walk into testing days feeling confident—which, in turn, can have a huge effect on their performance. Praise your child for the work that he or she does to prepare for testing, and share in his or her excitement when he or she has success with a new concept or skill. Similarly, when he or she is struggling with a topic, point out the progress that he or she has made and encourage him or her to continue working. Having already experienced success with the material that he or she will be tested on will help your child avoid test anxiety and perform to the best of his or her ability on testing day.

Support healthy habits Sleep and nutrition can have a huge impact on your child’s ability to focus and retain information. One of the most helpful things that you can do as a parent is focus on supporting these basic needs. Well-rounded meals and a regular sleep schedule will help your child succeed in the classroom on a day-to-day basis. On testing days, it’s especially important to make sure that your child gets a good night’s sleep, starts the day with a filling breakfast, and goes to school with a water bottle to help stay hydrated. Here are some additional tips in this bulleted list:

  • Note the testing dates on your home calendar 
  • Schedule appointments on non-testing days
  • Avoid taking any trips during the testing window
  • Encourage your child to take responsibility for homework
  • Help your child learn how to find information independently
  • Praise your child for work done well
  • Encourage your child to ask questions at home and at school
  • Convey to your child that you value education and learning
  • Discuss testing in a positive way
  • Emphasize that testing is only one way to measure academic gains

The testing window opens on March 18th and closes on April 12th.

Portland Schools are closed on April 12th, so our window ends on April 11th. Your child’s teacher will send home a classroom-specific testing calendar.

Again, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me or your child’s teacher.