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WASL preparation made simple

CKSD offers tips for parents during test week.

With the first round of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) set to begin next week, Central Kitsap School District (CKSD) officials have high expectations for students districtwide, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to high anxiety.

In fact, high anxiety and stress are exactly what district officials hope both parents and students can avoid during test week, which begins on Monday for sophomores in reading and writing. The remainder of the WASL testing won’t begin until April 13.

“All of the tips we’re offering are things parents should be doing anyway,” CKSD Learning Support Specialist Chris Wyatt said as she reviewed several tips for parents and students during test week.

Students should be well-prepared for the challenges they will face on the actual WASL test as teachers and staff have worked throughout the academic year for the test, Wyatt said.

“The important thing is for students to do their best and parents need to encourage that,” she said, noting that even at the high school level there are alternative ways to meet the state’s graduation requirements besides passing the WASL.

High school students can do a collection of evidence or take the ACT or SAT, which are the two most popular options, she said.

During test week, some students will undoubtedly experience test anxiety and teachers and staff are already aware of who those students are and will be working with them during the actual testing, she said.

“The nice thing about the WASL is that it isn’t a timed test, so students can take all day if they want,” she said, recalling her tenure as principal at Ridgetop Junior High School, where she had some students literally spend the entire school day on the writing portion of the WASL.

The test anxiety doesn’t touch just students who are struggling academically, but can also affect high-achievers, who feel pressure to outperform their peers, Wyatt said, adding that just like for average students, high-achievers only need to be encouraged to do their best and not feel they have to “reach Level 4 instead of Level 3” on the WASL.

In preparing for the WASL, Wyatt offers the following eight tips:

• Be well-prepared.

• Closely supervise bed times during test weeks. They should be well-rested.

• Make sure children have eaten a healthy breakfast before school on testing days. Eating a breakfast high in protein and low in sugar is recommended.

• Encourage your children to listen carefully to all of the directions given.

• Encourage children to relax to reduce any anxiety they may be experiencing related to taking a test.

• Assure your children the important thing is to do their best.

• Encourage children to think positively about testing.

• WASL is not a timed test, which means students are given all the time they need to complete it.

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