By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer
Local school students are in the middle of standardized tests this week, and area principals are trying new ideas to motivate students and provide the best testing environments possible.
Students will take standardized-based assessment tests in language arts, reading, writing, math and science for two weeks in sessions that last as two to four hours per day.
The results are released in the fall and serve as a report card to gauge yearly adequate progress as federally mandated by the “No Child Left Behind Act.”
“The main thing that we try to make parents aware of is kids need to have a good night’s sleep, they need to have breakfast, and they need to be at school on time,” said Carrie Nigreville, principal at Cameo Elementary. “We hope that parents are just very aware of the stress kids are feeling right now.
To prepare for the intense battery of tests, administrators held pep rallies, sent letters to parents about good habits for students in test weeks, and even divided the classrooms into smaller testing groups.
Clovis schools failed to meet adequate yearly progress standards based on last year’s testing, although some school officials say the manner in which student populations are broken down into individual sub groups is unfair and doesn’t accurately reflect the amount of learning taking place in a school.
However, Don Watson, director of assessment and accountability for the New Mexico Public Education Department said the tests are an important way to gauge student and school performance.
“The tests provide to teachers a way to look at their overall instructional approach,” he said.
The tests will be completed late next week.
La Casita Elementary Principal David Briseno said teachers and administrators are to ease the pressure on the students.
“(We ask them) to do the best they can, don’t get frustrated and give it your best shot,” Briseno said. “That’s all we ask of them.”
Marshall Junior High Principal Diana Russell said students have been preparing for the tests all year, with teachers presenting focus questions each day pertaining directly to the standards based assessment.
Other strategies employed at Marshall include serving breakfast to students in the classrooms on test mornings, breaking the students into smaller groups for testing and recognizing those students who are taking in an interest in test preparation in front of their peers.
How parents can help:
• Make sure the student gets a good night sleep before the tests.
• Make sure the student gets a good breakfast before coming to school.
• Get the student to school on time.
• Be aware that tests are stressful and help the student through the stress.
Source: Clovis schools principals