Xinergy Education Network International
Parents United for Student Success


10 Tips for Successful Test Taking

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1. Relax. Breathe. Be easy like Sunday mornin’. Try not to make a big deal of the situation to avoid anxiety which may cloud your thinking. If you follow all ten of these tips, then you are certain to be prepared to do your best.

2. Rest. Avoid spending long hours trying to “cram” for the test. Do your body and mind a favor and get a good nights rest.

3. Eat. Nourish your mind with a healthy meal. Don’t let hunger creep up and distract you. Eat a good breakfast, and have snacks handy if possible.

4. Positive Attitude. Use positive, encouraging words to boost self esteem and provide extra confidence. Hugs are excellent too. Ex: I love you! You’ve got this. Have a great day!

5. Review. Study the materiel each day so you know you are mentally prepared. Study groups and creating games can make this process more fun.

6. Release expectation. Don’t worry about perfect scores, or doing better the next person. Give your personal best, and be proud of that.

7. Be prepared. #2 pencils, erasers, scratch paper, snacks… make sure you have everything you need to be successful.

8. Go with what you know, and give the rest your best guess. While taking the test, don’t get stuck on problems you don’t know.  Move on and complete what you do know. When you have done that, use any remaining time to go back and give the rest of the questions your best guess.  Avoid leaving answers blank.

9. Use the process of elimination. With multiple choice test, eliminate the options that you are certain do not fit. This way you have a better chance of selecting the right answer.

10. Enjoy yourself. Give yourself a break once testing is complete. Allow yourself some free time to relax, enjoy yourself, and have some fun!

Ell Parker


Many students in today’s public schools are mostly tuned out, while increasingly more are dropping out.  Teachers often complain about a lack of parental involvement, while parents fault the schools for a lack of positive communication.  In the middle of this conflict is a confused child struggling to find success as a student.  Bridging this gap in student achievement is going to require a compromise.  Effective schools strive to create a happy medium that facilitates home-school communication in a manner that allows parents to receive and respond to important information.

Effective schools are going to encourage and facilitate involvement by parents, because this involvement generally translates to increased motivation among the student body.  This leads to improved student performance, higher grades and a more successful educational experience.  A survey conducted by the National Parent Teacher Association confirmed that parental involvement in low income communities is particularly effective and valuable.  The presence of one parent can be a positive influence on an entire classroom.  Therefore, teachers should not feel threatened by this parental involvement, and encourage continued parent participation.

Teachers may be the expert in curricula or subject content, but Parents are the expert in the child.  With the inclusion of after-school programs, the school day for many students has been extended to 6pm or later.  It can begin to create the illusion that child’s entire day is spent at school, and family time has been all but completely wiped out.  Do not be fooled.  The foundation of the child’s life will always be home and family.  Teachers should remember that parents have valuable, insightful and comprehensive knowledge regarding their own children.

In conclusion, an effective school will facilitate and encourage parent involvement.  There are many ways this can be accomplished:

  • Creating an appealing and welcoming environment. Schools are the business and parents are the customers.  Parents want to see, monitor and evaluate the quality of the product.  The best schools have an open door policy and welcome parents.
  • Providing parent with resources and pamphlets of interest to families.  There are many organizations and services available to the community that parents may not be aware of.  Providing information about these resources will serve to better support students and their families.
  • Producing a weekly or monthly newsletter.  This can be in print, online, and any other creative ways the school can think of to make sure parents are receiving important information to support their children’s education.
  • Hosting family nights or other positive entertainment for the entire family.  Learning can be fun.  Bringing families to school for a fun activity can help build trust and open the doors for future communication.

Educating a child takes an entire village.  The collaboration of school, family, community and business is the safety net our children need to grow to their full potential.  By forming this cooperative partnership our children will receive the wrap around support they need to excel as students, and achieve greatness beyond our wildest dreams.

Ell Parker


Chris Chatmon with honorees Kevin Butler and Joshua Haynes

16 3rd through 5th grade students from various schools in the Oakland Unified School District, received a standing ovation from a roaring crowd of approximately 200 family members and supporters, as they accepted rewards for achieving perfect scores on the California Standards Test.

Chris Chatmon, executive director of the African American Male Achievement task force (AAMA), and his staff were able to identify 26 students of OUSD’s 5,000 students that scored 100% on the math and language arts CST.  The regular monthly meeting of the AAMA started with this short ceremony to acknowledge and celebrate the extraordinary achievement of these young scholars.

The AAMA task force, in collaboration with community partners including 100 Black Men of the Bay Area and Oakland Technology Exchange, created an unforgettable experience for these young scholars and their families.  Each of these exceptional students received a beautiful plaque, a $50 gift card to Target, and a free computer.  Fifteen boys and one girl took the stage, and enjoyed a much deserved moment in the spotlight.  Their smiles showed that they were enjoying being showered with love and praise for their amazing accomplishment.

As the proud mother of one of the students looked on with tears in her eyes, she commented, “Before now the school hadn’t done anything to acknowledge my son’s accomplishment.  He works really hard, and he deserves this. I am so happy for him right now.”

The AAMA task force is an innovative program of OUSD. It was started October 1, 2010 to address the disproportionate rates of success among African American males throughout the district.  With this one of a kind initiative targeting African American males, the goals are to increase graduation, attendance and literacy rates; decrease the achievement gap, suspension and incarceration rates; and improve the academic performance of middle and high school students. The plan also includes a definitive deadline of five years.

The AAMA holds monthly community engagement meetings.  These meetings provide an opportunity for youth, parents and educators to engage in a discussion about some of the problems facing African American male students, and offer solutions to healing our troubled community. These discussions are followed by a breakout session where task forces established to tackle one of seven keys goals of the AAMA meet, to create and implement strategies to achieving successful outcomes.  Chris says: “It’s teamwork that makes the dream work.”

You can support the work of the AAMA by attending the monthly meetings and  joining one of the task force.  For more the location and more information, visit the OUSD website, or contact the AAMA office at 510-879-4663.

Ell Parker


Xinergy (pronounced Zen-er-gee) Education Network International evolved from a desire to do more to help our children achieve more.  This network was created to support parents, and student achievement by sharing information and resources as we struggle through the crisis of public education reform and urban renewal.

Communication and Cooperation: The Lost Keys to Success

There appears to be one primary factor affecting the success of our children: a lack of communication and cooperation between parents, schools, and the community.  This group as a whole is often guilty of grossly under-utilizing it’s best resources.  And what are the “best resources”?  The People.  Every single person, living and nonliving, has something of value to offer towards the education of our children.  By understanding and using this power, we call all do more to help our children to realize their dreams.




Children are a lot smarter than some adults give them credit for.  They seem to come into this world as experts of persuasive argument, and if you really think about it, logical reasoning as well.  I am sure every parent, has at least once, witnessed the innate expertise of a child’s ability to identify options to accomplishing their will, and acquiring their personal desires.

Playing Both Ends Against the Middle

Bill Cosby is pure genius at making light of what can be a very serious situation.  Children will try to get away with anything!  The one advantage we have a parents, is that our little masterminds are not always skilled enough to avoid getting caught.  I have even gone as far as to convince my children that their getting caught is a natural law, a commitment between God and mothers, and absolutely unavoidable.  (Fathers, you will have to let me know if the same is true for you as well.)

Through observation and personal experience, I have noticed a strong disconnect, and oftentimes adversary relationships between parents and schools.  Most often public schools.  Especially urban public schools.  Children are keenly observant, and when they see this breakdown in communication between home and school, they use it as an opportunity to create mischief.  It has been tested and proven, that children will thrive under effective leadership. This will require a collaboration between schools, home and community.  The bottom line is: without proper communication and support, our children are being set up for failure.

Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The popular phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ still rings true today.  We have the power to create contemporary urban villages to provide the loving support every child needs.  Proper student support requires strong and effective leadership.  This will also require that all of the adults involved to practice being in positive relationship to each other.  Smooth transitions and continuous care between home, school and community will help to create a secure, loving environment from which our children can thrive and grow.

The US government and many school districts across the nation are finally catching on to what we have been saying all along, and taking steps towards establishing a full service Community School model in many urban cities.  In this model, school are designed to provide comprehensive academic, social and health services for students, students’ family members, and community members; which will result in improved education outcomes for our children.

Whether operating within or outside of the public school system, there are three simple factors to creating this secure network:

1- Collaboration between home, school and community services to help ensure our children are accounted for at all times, and receiving all of the support they need.

2- Communication between all of the adults involved in the child’s life, so they know they will be held accountable for their actions wherever they go.  Parents should be communicating with teachers on a regular basis, and schools can do more to create an open and welcoming environment and invite parents to get involved in the daily learning process.

3- Cooperation is the key.  Schools and community services aligned to support students and families is the only way we are going to make it through the future.  We all want what is best for the children, so as long as we can come together with that one goal in mind, future success is imminent. 

Success through Confidence

Establishing a secure foundation for student support will lead to a more secure, happy and successful child.  Establishing this foundation is easy to do using collaboration, communication and cooperation as the resources for providing a seamless network of care and support.  The result will be an a abundance of self-esteem and confidence to sustain a lifetime of positive growth and success.

~ Ell Parker


My seven year old daughter is currently a second grade student at an Oakland public school.  She carries with her a pleasant and independent spirit which can be at times difficult to harness, but is most often a joy to watch as it unfolds.

My daughter came to me one Saturday morning and excitedly exclaimed, “Mommy, I know there are only twenty-eight days in February, because Ms. Perrones told me.”

I remained in a state of stoic shock, and quiet contemplation, as the weight of her words resonated in my mind. Time seemed to stand still as a montage of days gone past played across my mind like a silent movie.  I watched with silent approval as my daughter hung her own calendar on the wall, and diligently checked off each day as it passed.  I saw myself encouraging her older brother to follow her example of keeping track of events by immediately writing them down on the calendar as soon as she heard about them.  I could see the pride radiating from my beaming smile as my daughter shared news and events from her calendar with the rest of the family.  As I brought myself back the present moment, I could tell my daughter was confused by my lack of enthusiasm, and quietly sank back as though she had done something wrong.  I was confused, wondering why this independent child of mines was so excited to claim knowledge of something, not through her own efforts, but because her teacher told her so.

The disease of dependency and aimlessness

Most of us have forgotten the origins of education in America.  In the beginning, education was a tool for imparting religious doctrines, and only available in English to the wealthy. The revolutionary idea of public education was first presented in the 1800’s by President Jefferson.  Public school was born in the 19th century industrial revolution.  This was the period in time when production changed from hand and home-made, to machine and factory production.  The influx of immigrants meant a rapid increase to the American population, and major changes to the society’s structure.

Most present day public schools are still using the same model created during the industrial revolution, with the primary goal of producing workers, and not independent thinkers.  According to educator and author John Taylor Gatto: ‘Schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders… Schools were designed to be instruments of the scientific management of a mass population.  Schools are intended to produce… human beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlled.’  Instead of reading, writing and arithmetic; the three R’s of this public model appear to be: Recite, Retain and Reproduce.

Teaching our children to be independent learners

We are at the impetus of yet another educational revolution.  Budget cuts and public school closures are rampant throughout the country.  Many parents have decided to invest in alternative educational programs.  Some of the options include private schools, charter schools, and independent study programs.  Whatever option you choose, teaching independent learning skills will be the most beneficial skill any child can have.

Learning can be broken down into four simple steps:

1-     Ask questions. All children are born with a natural curiosity.  This is the beginning of the learning process.  Asking questions is the pulse of the brain, the life force activity that let’s us know we are still alive.  If children are taught to simply obey orders instead of asking their own questions, they are being stripped of their vitality, which will result in a weaker child, both academically and spiritually.

2-     Think of an answer. The brain is the body’s CPU, and it comes preloaded with a wealth of knowledge and wisdom.  We should be teaching our children to search their internal memory storage as a first step in answering their questions.

3-     Get the information. How many times have you answered a question for a child, only to find that the answer you gave has escaped them within mere seconds after it was provided?  Helping a child to find the information on their own will build independent learning skills that will last a lifetime.

4-     Share what you know.  This is a child’s first opportunity to share the rewarding experience of peer and community service.  Experts have also confirmed that teaching any particular subject is the best way to learn about it.

Every child has something unique and valuable to share with the world.  By teaching children to follow their individual passions, and take leadership of their educational pursuits, we will all share the benefits of a rich and vibrant future.

~ Ell Parker


The educational system in America continues to be a source of great debate.  Budget cuts, school reforms, and student achievement are some of the issues at the forefront.  Government officials, school administrators and teachers often end up in heated discussion about who is to blame for the existing problems, and what needs to be done to fix them.  Oftentimes, these discussions produce more opinions than results.  These overseers will debate for hours about what is best for our children.  As a parent, don’t you think you know what is best for your child?  Shouldn’t you be the first to say what your child needs?

Parents- Get Involved!

As a parent, are you satisfied with the education your child is receiving?

What are your goals for your child’s future?

Is your child’s current education supporting your goals?

What options are available to you and your child?

Xinergy Education Network International was created to be a coalition of parents, students, and youth advocates; working to ensure that our children are getting the best education possible for a sustainable future.  Our mission is to fearlessly explore all educational options available for our children, and to hold schools accountable for the services they provide.  We bring together the experts prepared to answer questions and provide knowledgeable advice and solutions to some of the problems facing our youth, as we engage a workforce of supporters to help establish goals and execute plans to guide the course of each child’s educational development.  Let your voice be heard.

The Future is Now!

The children are our future, and their time is now.  As parents, we know what is best for our children, and are free to decide the course of their education.  If we are required to enroll our children in the school system, shouldn’t they be required to educate our children on how to evolve and succeed in this ever changing future reality?  We have the ability to determine exactly what our children need, and the power to create a better tomorrow for our children by the actions we take today.

~ Ell Parker