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 How Parents Can Help Prepare Children for New Assessments

​​Learning doesn't end in the classroom, and parents can help provide support and a home environment that will help children succeed at school.

With new academic standards for English and math and new assessments aligned with them, it's more important than ever for parents and schools to partner to make the most of students' time in the classroom.

Students throughout the county and state will take the new online assessments over the next several months.

There are a variety of ways parents can help students prepare for these new assessments.

A good start is to run through one of the practice tests available on www.smarterbalanced.org with children and ask them to explain their reasoning as they select answers. Helping children learn important computer skills such as typing and mouse control can also help them navigate the online assessments.

To encourage children to think critically as called for in the new standards, parents can ask their children to analyze whatever they are reading and to back their answers up with information from the book.

Other strategies that can be helpful depending on a child's age include reading to them or encouraging them to read, discussing their day at school, playing word games, helping them understand academic vocabulary, setting high expectations, focusing on the process rather than the answer, encouraging them to see math in the real world and asking children to explain why they think a certain answer is correct.

More fundamentally, it's important to have a space and schedule that are conducive to learning. This can be accomplished by creating a quiet place for your child to study; setting aside uninterrupted time every day for your child to concentrate on reading, writing and math; and sitting down with your child at least once a week for 15 to 30 minutes while he or she works on homework.

Students in grades 3 through 8 along with those in grade 11 will take the new online assessments this year. The assessments will be completely online and feature a variety of different types of questions.

With more short answers and extended responses, the assessments will require a deeper understanding of key concepts.

For more information about the new assessments, visit the California Department of Education's CAASPP website.