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Parish students urged not to stress upcoming tests

Published 12:10am Saturday, April 6, 2013

VIDALIA — Second through eighth-grade Concordia Parish students will be put to the test next week.

But despite more difficult test material, parents are urged not to over emphasize their difficulty.

Monday through Thursday, students will take the Louisiana Educational Assessment Programs, or LEAP, Integrated Louisiana Educational Assessment Programs, or iLEAP, and the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, or ITBS.

Students in grades 3, 5, 6 and 7 take the iLEAP test; students in grades 4 and 8 take the LEAP test and second-grade students take the ITBS test.

In Louisiana, fourth- and eighth-grade students must pass the LEAP in order to move on to the next grade. Those students took the first part of the LEAP in March and will take the remainder of the test this week.

The iLEAP and ITBS measure a student’s progress throughout the year, but do not affect a child’s grade promotion.

As part of an effort to align the state’s testing assessment to the more rigorous Common Core State Standards, the state education department is including more common-core-aligned content in the LEAP and iLEAP tests for this year and the 2013-2014 school year.

Concordia Parish Superintendent Paul Nelson said that means students taking those tests next week could be seeing a different test than what they’re accustomed to taking.

“Our tests will be slightly different this year because of the transition to common core,” Nelson said. “This will mainly affect the writing portions of the test.

“We are working throughout the parish to prepare students for the tests.”

Previously, a student taking an English language arts (ELA) test was asked to write an essay on a personal opinion about a subject. The new test will require students to read passages and use facts to support the essay they write.

Through the Common Core State Standards, ELA and mathematics curriculum will be changed in Louisiana, Mississippi and 43 other states with the ultimate goal of setting clear educational standards that states can share and adopt.

The main goal is to determine what students in specific grades should know in all participating states.

Those goals are similar to what Louisiana currently refers to as Grade Level Expectations, or “GLEs.”

Louisiana adopted common core in 2010, and the state education department plans o having all assessments and curriculum aligned with the new state standards in ELA and math by the 2014-2015 school year.

Revised assessments in social studies and science are slated to launch the same year.

Cindy Smith, director of elementary education and testing coordinator for the school district, said students shouldn’t too surprised when taking the test if the teaching material supplied by the state was correct.

“We have followed the guidelines that the state department said should be taught at each grade level, so we’re hoping the test fits those guidelines,” Smith said. “It’s still the same tests, but it’s like a new version of the test that includes some common core items.

“Our teachers and administrators have worked hard to prepare students for a successful testing period.”

Even with changes continuing to flow out of the state education department, Smith said it’s best that parents don’t let their children get overwhelmed with the tests.

“Don’t over talk it to them, and just treat it like you’re prepping them for the big game,” Smith said. “Give them the confidence they need, and encourage them to do their best.”