The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice


For families around the country, spring means flowers blooming, cleaning the garage, and getting outdoors. For teachers, it means counting down the days to a much-anticipated Spring Break and preparing for the state test. The CST (California State Test) has become more than just a marker of student progress. It has become a high-stakes political tool and the pressure for improved performance weighs heavily on teachers, administrators, and most certainly trickles down to students.

Testing for most public schools in Santa Clara will begin the last week in April. However, test prep will begin weeks before. If you’re interested in looking at some sample questions, visit the California Department of Education website, and search “released questions.” For any other information regarding the state test, ask your school site’s secretary or administrator.

The best preparation of course is to encourage your child to be a life-long learner both in and out of the classroom. That means doing simple things like listening and following directions, and reading and doing homework. Beyond that, here are some specific objectives that, if met, can better prepare your young Einstein.


Ask your child’s teacher if there is anything specific she would like accomplished before the test. For example, are there test-prep questions, reading material, make-up work, or extra credit specific to the test that can be completed at home?

Make sure your child is in school and on time during the testing session.

Move bed up time just a tad and prepare a hearty, healthy breakfast that’s sure to be gobbled up. A bath the night before or shower in the morning will freshen mind and spirit. Also, make certain the mornings of the test are pleasant ones at home and on the way to school to eliminate any added concerns.

Be a cheerleader! It’s crucial that you communicate to your child that you believe in him. Without adding pressure, encourage your child to do well on the test and to listen carefully to all test-taking directions and to ask questions about any directions that are unclear.

Tuck a small token into his pocket – nothing distracting, just a special coin, or sticker or inspirational quote, like “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” — Thomas Edison, Or,

“Neither you nor the world knows what you can do until you have tried.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson, or simply, “I love you!”

If your child is overly anxious, give him a few, calming tips to use while testing.

Suggest imagining a favorite place if he becomes frazzled. Focusing on a pleasant memory clears the head and releases negative energy. If that doesn’t work, recommend taking a deep breath and counting to ten.

These simple exercises are fast, simple and really work.

Empowering yourself and your child before test taking will lead to a more pleasant testing experience, and hopefully higher scores, so send your tough test taker to school with a full tummy, clean body and confident self.

Contact Margaret Lavin at


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