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April is the worst month to be a student or in a school in Minnesota. Not only is the weather turning and making it hard to be inside, April is MCA month. MCA’s are the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments aka the standardized testing. What could be worse than sitting quietly at your desk for 2+ hours staring at a booklet, filling in bubbles with hopefully the right answer. Even our best students struggle with test anxiety and the patience required to sit, read, and fill, not to mention how our English Language Learners from Somalia and other countries must feel (some have only been here for a few weeks).
Their is a point to this besides getting into the politics of testing and education. This is also a time of testing for many runners. With the Boston Marathon now over and London approaching we are in spring marathon/racing season. These races are often used as tests to determine our overall fitness and how are training is going.
Some of us “test” ourselves more than others, we like to race as much as possible, others prefer to wait for the “big test” and don’t race until their goal race. I prefer to have lots of tests throughout the year. The more tests you take, hopefully the better you’ll do overall. Or you’ll at least know where you are at in your training so you’ll know what to expect on race day.
- Students should take courses that address Minnesota’s academic standards. Most schools also make appropriate educational opportunities available to students who are at risk for not succeeding on these tests. Make sure you train properly for test day and get proper equipment.
- Familiarize students with the test directions and format. Check out the course before the race, including type of gatorade/powerade being used and any form of nutritional supplements offered on course.
- Encourage students to answer all test questions. Plan to cross every mile and the finish line!
- Encourage students to participate in practice sessions at school and home. Make sure you train properly for the event, getting in lots of practice.
- Have students get a good night’s sleep and a nutritious breakfast before taking a test. Hydrate, eat properly, and get a good night’s sleep the week leading up to the race. This also includes making sure you have all of your gear and supplies ready to go for race morning – you don’t want any surprises!
- Provide students with a study area. Everyone needs a place to stretch, do core work, hang race numbers, etc. Plan accordingly.
- Encourage students to practice good study habits. Students should set aside time every day for homework. Make sure you practice good technique, proper stretching, core work, etc into your daily routine of life. These types of homework will make test day that much more successful.
The key to success for any test is preparation. As the Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared.”