According to Students First, despite decades of effort, policy and investment focused toward improving overall student achievement, American kids’ test scores are not improving. The average math and reading scores for those completing the National Assessment of Education Performance, or NAEP, has remained stagnant since the 70s. The No Child Left Behind Federal Law 2002 places additional emphasis on math and reading proficiency in school-age children. As a result, parents, school administrations, state departments of education and even individual companies have developed practice tests for children to improve their math and reading skills.
School administrations are narrowing curriculum to focus classroom instruction on reading and math. As at 2006, 71 percent of the nation’s 15,000 school districts had reduced instructional time on other subjects such as history and music to focus on math and reading, largely because of the No Child Left Behind Act 2002, according to the Center on Education Policy. The act requires an annual exam only in math and reading and establishes sanctions against schools whose students consistently perform poorly. As a result, school administrations have duly adjusted their focus to comply with the law.
School district administrations provide sample tests and assessment tools, such as standards benchmarks, to guide teachers on the specific objectives that students at a particular grade level are expected to master and to prepare students to take the math and reading achievement tests. The districts also help schools achieve the standards that the state boards of education set. For example, in Pennsylvania, kids in grade 3, 5, 8 and 11 take the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, or PSSA, in reading and math. One of the state's districts, the Montrose School District, offers schools preparation tests to help them achieve the state standards benchmark and to avoid the negative consequences of performing poorly.
State boards of education develop, administer and evaluate the results of reading and math tests and offer schools practice worksheets in a bid to ensure high performance during actual testing. They also have other material for download, including the core objectives and scoring keys for the tests. The state boards have a mandate to effect federal law, such as the No Child Left Behind Act, so they extend support and facilities to ensure adequate yearly progress, particularly in schools where kids consistently under-perform during the national and state assessment tests.
Parents can also support their kids in improving their math and reading proficiency through online practice tests. Test preparation websites feature online math and reading practice tests that individual companies have developed and parents and kids can access at home either for free or for a fee. The tests such as Intelliseeds and Mathblaster are modeled along the nation and state assessment tests and kids can take them as many times as they need to get better at math and reading.
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